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KSA following WHO instructions on swine flu
By Shahid Ali Khan
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 01 - 05 - 2009

Saudi Arabia is closely following instructions issued by the World Health Organization (WHO) which stepped up its global alert and said that a pandemic was imminent.
“The MoH in coordination with the National Scientific Committee on Infectious Diseases is closely following instructions issued by WHO and fully prepared to tackle any emergency,” Ministry of Health spokesman Dr. Khalid Al-Marghalani told the Saudi Gazette Thursday.
He said officials at the airports were carrying out health checks.
As part of these precautionary measures, the Ministry of Health conducted medical tests on a crew member of a plane Thursday at King Khaled International Airport in Riyadh and found no trace of swine flu, a Ministry of Health statement said late Thursday.
The Ministry apologized to passengers coming from the affected countries for lengthy procedures, which are necessary to ensure their safety and that of the Kingdom.
Dr. Marghalani assured that Saudi Arabia had enough quantities of medicines both curative and preventive, urging people to stay calm and take precautionary measures such as washing hands.
But many panicky Saudi businessmen have canceled their reservations to European destinations, according to a source in the tour and travel sector. Muhammad Quaiser, Marketing Manager at a tourism company, said that quite a number of Saudi businesspeople have canceled their reservations to Europe, Canada and the US.
H1N1 ‘A' not swine flu
The World Health Organization announced Thursday it would stop using the term “swine flu” to avoid confusion over the danger posed by pigs.
“Rather than calling this swine flu ... we're going to stick with the technical scientific name H1N1 influenza A,” a WHO official said.
The swine flu virus originated in pigs, and has genes from human, bird and pig viruses. Scientists don't know exactly how it jumped to humans.
Wild theories abound
Dead pigs in China, evil factory farms in Mexico and an Al Qaeda plot involving Mexican drug cartels are a few wild theories seeking to explain a deadly swine flu outbreak that has killed up to 176 people.
Nobody knows for sure but scientists say the origins are in fact far less sinister and are likely explained by the ability of viruses to mutate and jump from species to species as animals and people increasingly live closer to each other. “The pig has been considered the mixing bowl of influenza viruses. Both avian flu and pig flu viruses have spread via the pig to humans,” Paul Yeo, a virologist at Durham University in Britain, said on Thursday.
“The problem now with this virus is that it has picked up a mixture of elements, now including human elements. It's a complex virus.”


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