x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 22 January 2018

Swine flu measures will be revisited

The Minister of Health says there is enough antiviral drugs for the entire UAE population after WHO announces pandemic.

ABU DHABI // Screening measures at airports to monitor arriving passengers for swine flu will be reviewed after the World Health Organisation (WHO) declared the outbreak a worldwide pandemic. In announcing the move yesterday, however, health officials stressed that checks already in place are fully protecting the public. The new Minister of Health, Dr Hanif Hassan, said the country had ordered enough of the antiviral drugs for the entire UAE population, which would be delivered by September. He added that there was enough Tamiflu and Relenza for emergency purposes. "There is no change in the measures that we took from the very beginning to ensure the safety of the general public and public health," he said after the meeting of the Higher Supervisory Committee held at the Crisis and Emergency Management Authority. TV and radio information campaigns also are being developed, the minister added. According to the state news agency, WAM, Dr Hassan added that the WHO's decision to raise the pandemic alert from level five to six was not unexpected and did not mean an increase in danger. The declaration came as the number of H1N1 virus cases climbed towards 30,000 in 74 countries across four continents. "This is only part of the picture. With few exceptions, countries with large numbers of cases are those with good surveillance and testing procedures in place," said Dr Margaret Chan, the WHO's director general. The UAE has one recorded case of swine flu, that of a man who last month returned from a visit to Canada carrying the virus. The man, who works as an ­academic at UAE University in Al Ain, was said to be recovering well. This month, Saudi Arabia confirmed its first case of the virus, in a Filipina nurse, while Kuwait said 18 US soldiers stationed in the emirate had been infected with swine flu. Representatives of the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Interior, emergency agencies and officials from all the airports in the country will review screening procedures next Sunday. Thermal-imaging cameras that can detect fever in passengers are being used at Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Airports. Sharjah International Airport also ordered two scanners last month. A TV and radio campaign will feature doctors offering information on the virus and how to tackle it, according to WAM. tspender@thenational.ae