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Wed 22 Jul 2009 08:45 AM

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Eight Kuwaiti pilgrims get swine flu at umra

Officials confirm new cases of H1N1 virus in people returning from minor Saudi pilgrimage.

Kuwait’s health ministry has confirmed eight new cases of swine flu in citizens who returned from the minor umra pilgrimage in Saudi Arabia.

This raises the number of H1N1 cases in the country to 44, officials told the official news agency KUNA.

On Monday, Egyptian health officials announced that an Egyptian woman had died from swine flu after falling ill while on the same pilgrimage. She was the first swine flu victim to die in the Middle East.

Egypt’s health ministry has since warned vulnerable Muslims against pilgrimage to Mecca. Officials said the elderly, pregnant women, children and those suffering from chronic illness should not perform the hajj or omra pilgrimages.

Kuwait’s health ministry Dr Youssef Al Nisf told KUNA laboratory tests showed the cases, including six females, had contracted the H1N1 virus. He said they are being treated in the Infectious Diseases Hospital.

Al Nisf, quoting the Saudi Health Ministry, said pilgrims were urged to get vaccinated against seasonal flu two weeks prior to their departure as a precautionary measure.

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