Monday, November 23, 2009
Swine Flu (A/H1N1) deaths in Mecca - Update
While some media outlets had reported that a Moroccan woman had died from Swine flu while in Saudi Arabia, Moroccan authorities have contradicted the report, saying that there were no A/H1N1 death case reported among Moroccan pilgrims
Head of the Moroccan medical mission to the Holy city of Mecca, Dr. Fouad Bouchareb told reporters that a Moroccan woman, aged 75, died on November 9 in Medina of cardiac complications and arterial hypertension, from which she suffered for several years. He added that the Moroccan medical mission has vaccinated 1209 Moroccan pilgrims who were not immunized in Morocco against the H1N1 virus.
On Saturday he told the Moroccan Press Agency,MAP, that the Moroccan medical mission conducted an investigation into the story disseminated by some media reporting the death of a 75-year-old Moroccan woman from the H1N1 virus.
Several months ago, Arab health ministers met in Cairo to discuss the possibility of banning children under 12, adults over 65, pregnant women and people with chronic illnesses.
However, the Saudis didn't ban anybody from coming and left the responsibility to the pilgrims' countries of origin. In effect, officials issued guidelines only for people at risk.
Two days ago, Saudi Arabia's health minister, Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, gathered representatives to discuss efforts to detect the ailment.
"It would be nice to have more time to prepare [for the possibility of H1N1 spreading in Saudi Arabia] ahead of the hajj, but I am very satisfied with all the measures taken and have great confidence," he said before the meeting.
Al-Marghalani said the "safe weapon" for the kinds of H1N1 cases that resulted in the deaths is Tamiflu, the drug used to fight influenza.
"If we lose Tamiflu, we will lose the war. But Tamiflu is only effective in the first 48 hours of when the symptoms appear," he said.