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Thu 12 Nov 2009 07:15 AM

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Only 9 hajj pilgrims with swine flu so far - Saudi minister

Tiny percentage of more than 500,000 arrivals in kingdom found to be infected.

Only nine people out of more than 500,000 who have arrived for the hajj in Saudi Arabia have been diagnosed with swine flu, health minister Dr Abdullah Al-Rabeah has said.

Rabeah said that altogether 70 people had died in the kingdom this year from swine flu, but none of them have been pilgrims.

“Out of the 600,000 arriving so far, we have only seen nine suspected cases of A(H1N1), and only two of those are in the hospital,” he said in comments published by Saudi Gazette.

The total number of proven cases is about 7,000, the minister said.

Concern has mounted about the possibility of a major outbreak of the disease during the hajj, when more than three million Muslims converge on the holy cities of Makkah and Madina in western Saudi Arabia in the second half of November.

The Saudi authorities have deployed about 20,000 health workers to deal with flu and other health emergencies among pilgrims, Rabeah said.

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