by VR Sreeraman on  September 19, 2009 at 4:30 PM General Health News
 Cairo Airport on Swine Flu Alert as Muslim Pilgrims Return Home
Cairo airport authorities reinforced swine flu testing measures on Friday as thousands of pilgrims were expected home from holy sites in Saudi Arabia, state-run MENA news agency said.

Authorities are bracing themselves for the arrival of around 9,000 pilgrims on Friday alone aboard 30 flights while around 115,000 pilgrims are expected to return home in the coming days.

"Doctors have been put on flights accompanying the pilgrims home," airport official Hassan Shaaban told MENA.

"They have been given thermometres and will monitor the condition of passengers on the flights," he added.

Passengers are also being asked to fill medical questionnaires on the flights home in order to avoid crowding at terminals, Shaaban said, adding that additional officers will man passport control to speed up queues.

On Friay, the independent daily al-Shorouk reported that a 60-year-old Egyptian pilgrim died in Saudi Arabia on Thursday after she contracted swine flu.

Two people have died of the disease in Egypt so far and nearly 900 cases have been reported.

Egypt, the most populous Arab country with a population of 80 million, has taken several measures to curb swine flu, including killing the country's estimated 200,000 pigs.

It has also restricted visas for pilgrims going to Islamic holy sites to those between the ages of 25 and 65 and ordered all schools and universities to close until October 3 over worries about an outbreak.

As well as the annual hajj, which all Muslims are required to make once in a lifetime if they have the means, the faithful can also make the lesser pilgrimage known as umrah at any time of the year.

Source: AFP

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