CAIRO, Aug 23 (IPS) – Muslims marked the start of the fasting month of Ramadan Saturday, but the global H1N1 pandemic has put a damper on religious festivities throughout the Middle East. “Everyone is worried about swine flu,” says Anwar Mohamed, a Yemeni antique dealer. “We have been told to avoid crowds, but everywhere there are crowds.” Arab governments have taken measures aimed at reducing the spread and impact of the H1N1 virus, which has infected over 5,000 people in the region, and killed at least 30. Authorities have implemented border surveillance, quarantine procedures and swine flu awareness campaigns. They have also sought to restrict activities that draw large crowds, including religious gatherings and pilgrimages. Kuwait has reported over 1,000 H1N1 infections and two fatalities, the second largest number of cases in the region behind Saudi Arabia. The United Arab Emirates, which recorded its first swine flu fatality on Friday, is mulling a plan to minimise H1N1 infections by reducing the time people spend in enclosed spaces. (Snip) Egypt, the most populous country in the Arab world, began taking measures in July to limit the attendance of certain local religious events in an effort to curb the spread of swine flu among its 80 million people. Health officials and municipal authorities have ordered the cancellation or shortening of local Muslim and Christian festivals called moulids, which celebrate the birthday of a holy person. More than 1,000 of these annual celebrations take place each year in Egypt – the largest lasting a week and drawing over two million people.



Swine flu news from various countries

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 22, (Agencies): Kuwait says a young woman has died from swine flu days after she gave birth to a baby by Caesarian section. She is the country’s second person to succumb to the disease. The state-owned Kuwait News Agency quoted Health Ministry spokesman Youssef al-Nisf as saying Saturday the woman also suffered from acute pneumonia in addition to swine flu. He said she was eight months pregnant when she was admitted to the hospital Aug 12. The C-section was performed the following day and the woman was then admitted to intensive care. Sources said the baby was delivered safely. Al-Nisf said there have been 1,072 cases of the disease in Kuwait. Most were mild and successfully treated.

Oman recorded its fourth swine flu death, (Snip) a 70-year-old woman died despite being given medication.

The United Arab Emirates has recorded its first death from swine flu, the official WAM news agency reported. A 63-year-old Indian man died in hospital despite being treated for symptoms of influenza A(H1N1), (Snip) “The patient was admitted to hospital too late and he was suffering from inflamation of the chest and the lungs in addition to symptoms of the A(H1N1) flu,” the statement said. “He was given necessary treatment but he died because the inflamation had become worse before he was admitted to hospital.”

French Polynesia
Three people have died of swine flu in French Polynesia and more than 10,000 people have been infected by the A(H1N1) virus, local authorities in Tahiti announced Friday. The dead were two women and a baby, (Snip) The death of a pregnant woman was reported earlier this month but has not been confirmed by authorities.

Continued report on more countries


•  Epidemic Situation In Armenia In Respect Of H1N1 Virus Is Calm (Link)

•  No H1N1 viruses isolated from CFIA inspectors, can’t compare to pig viruses (Link)

•  Chile confirms swine flu in turkeys (Link)

Costa Rica
•  Flu cases in Costa Rica exceed 1,000 (Link)

•  Six more swine flu deaths in India, toll jumps to 54 (Link)
•  111 positive cases in Tamil Nadu, four in Puducherry (Link)

•  Female new-flu patient falls seriously ill in Nagano (Link)
•  Japan’s number of new-flu patients tops epidemic mark (Link)

•  310 discharged from hospitals; no deaths recorded (Link)

Polynesia Islands
•  Three swine flu deaths in French Polynesia (Link)

•  Singapore reports 12th A/H1N1 related death  (Link)

South Korea
•  Spread of virus could nullify Tamiflu patent  (Link)

Sri Lanka
•  A/H1N1 flu cases increase to 75 in Sri Lanka (Link)

•  Ebola haemorrhagic fever suspect in Mbale (Link)

United Kingdom
•  UK prepares mass graves for swine flu victims (Link)

United States
•  Protecting the Fair’s Prize Pig From the Swine Flu (Link)
•  GA: Possible jail outbreak delays murder trial  (Link)
•  Pregnant woman dies of swine flu in Hillsborough (Link)
•  Georgia State U swine flu rumors unfounded  (Link)
•  Indiana: Norwell High staffer, student have swine flu (Link)
•  Eighteen Tulane players sidelined (Link)
•  NC: WNC youths show resistance to flu medication (Link)
•  NC: Buncombe gearing up for bad flu season  (Link)
•  92 H1N1 flu cases in South Dakota (Link)
•  OH: Three cases of H1N1 reported from Hartford Fair (Link)
•  VA: Swine flu spreads to University of Virginia (Link)
•  FL: Dolphins Players Test Positive For H1N1 (Link

•  Record number of swine flu cases reported  (Link)

•  Hundreds of public sector doctors sacked as swine flu hits (Link)