x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Virus cannot be contained, says head of GCC centre

Countries in the Gulf region need to concentrate on minimising the spread of swine flu rather than trying to contain it, an expert said yesterday.

ABU DHABI // Countries in the Gulf region need to concentrate on minimising the spread of swine flu rather than trying to contain it, an expert said yesterday. Dr Ziad Memish, the head of the GCC's centre for infection control, said officials should follow advice from the World Health Organisation and focus on mitigation, as containment was no longer an option. This week the UAE and Bahrain both confirmed positive cases of the H1N1 virus.

Ministry of Health officials travelled to Riyadh on Monday for an all-day meeting to co-ordinate and combine preventive measures across the region. Dr Memish was at the meeting and said officials discussed antiviral stocks, entry and exit point monitors, and ways to document potential spreads of the virus. "We were trying to co-ordinate all the national plans in the Gulf," he said, to "ensure consistency in the policies and procedures".

"The time for containment is long gone. Now it is just trying to limit the spread of the virus. "We understand that there will be more cases. The source is still there but there is no reason for people to panic." Yesterday the WHO daily statement reported more than 12,900 cases in 46 countries. The comprehensive country list did not include Bahrain or the UAE. munderwood@thenational.ae