x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Go to hospital if you have signs of swine flu, travellers told

Travellers arriving in the UAE with symptoms of swine flu should go straight to hospital and avoid mixing with people, health officials say.

Travellers arriving in the UAE with symptoms of swine flu should go straight to hospital and avoid mixing with people, health officials said yesterday. The message from the Ministry of Health's Technical Health Committee on Combating Swine Flu came as it was disclosed that 11 more people with the virus had been treated and discharged from hospital, and 35 were still receiving treatment, WAM, the state news agency, reported.

The total number of recorded cases in the UAE is now around 125, according to the ministry. Saudi Arabia's health ministry announced the country's first death from the disease yesterday. The 30-year-old Saudi man had been treated with the antiviral drug Tamiflu after being admitted to a private hospital in Dammam last Wednesday. It is not known whether he had any pre-existing health conditions. According to the World Health Organisation, manufacturers are expected to have a vaccine against swine flu ready for use around September.

Several pharmaceutical companies are working on a vaccine to tackle the pandemic and each has a different timetable. Last week, in an effort to reduce the spread of the virus, health officials from the UAE and other Arab countries agreed to ban people under 12 and over 65 and those with chronic illnesses from undertaking Haj and Umrah. The WHO said 19 member states in the region had reported more than 1,100 cases, with more than 280 transmitted locally.

"In addition to surveillance information, WHO is relying on the results of special research and clinical studies and other data provided by countries directly - through frequent expert teleconferences on clinical, virological and epidemiological aspects of the pandemic - to gain a global overview of the evolving situation," it said. "Although the risk factors for serious pandemic disease are not know definitively, risk factors such as existing cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, diabetes and cancer currently are considered risk factors for serious pandemic (H1N1) 2009 disease."

munderwood@thenational.ae