By Souhail Karam and Ulf Laessing
UPDATE 1: 30-year-old Saudi man dies from H1N1 virus as kingdom gears up to welcome haj pilgrims.
Saudi Arabia, which is gearing up to host hundreds of thousands of Muslim pilgrims later this year, announced its first death from H1N1 flu on Monday.
The ministry of health said a 30-year-old man died on Saturday from the virus after being admitted to a private medical centre in the eastern city of Dammam.
Saudi Arabia has reported about 300 cases of the new H1N1 flu, raising fears the pandemic could hit the pilgrimage seasons in September and November.
Saudi Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah has urged elderly, ill and other unfit Muslims to postpone pilgrimages as the kingdom tries to prevent a large-scale spread of the H1N1 flu.
Arab health ministers also agreed earlier this month to restrict people over the age of 65 and below 12 and the chronically sick from performing this year's haj pilgrimage due to fears over the virus.
Mecca, home to Islam's holiest site, traditionally attracts more than a million pilgrims for a minor pilgrimage during the last third of the fasting month of Ramadan, a lunar month which starts around Aug. 20 this year.
The main pilgrimage season falls late in November this year. Last year, about three million people performed the pilgrimage, which also extends to the city of Medina as worshipers visit the grave of the Prophet Mohammad.
Last week, the health ministry said it would no longer publish updates on the number of infections after they neared 300 without explaining the move which came one day after Egypt reported its first H1N1 death of a woman returning from Mecca.
Last month, Tunisia announced the suspension of travel by its pilgrims to Mecca.
The new virus has killed more than 800 people worldwide since it emerged in April, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). The body has declared H1N1, popularly known as swine flu, as the fastest-moving pandemic ever. (Reuters)
Well many countries are now worrying that the flu is out of control. infact WHO has stopped counting the number of flu worldwide since it is now in every country. So this is something serious which we all have to resolve. Lets make sure we take care of hygiene, wash our hands, avoid unnecessary travel and public places. And if we are sick, we should stay home and not make others sick. Please everyone be careful, and lets work together.
Proactive behavior means taking responsibility for your "Personal Hygiene". This is of critical importance for all pilgrams and personnel. Consider ALL surfaces contaminated, Wash your hands, Keep your fingers away from your eyes and face, and wear a filter mask if possible. We should all realize the "logistical nightmare" of Hajj...I have made Hajj and witnessed the serious challenges faced by the personnel and pilgrams. The Kingdom has made many improvements. However, the process is an on going and appears to be constantly expanding due to the increase of pilgrams. The Mecca facilities should have around the clock anti-viral sanitation in all restroom shower areas. Management might consider placing hand sanitizing stations and personnel with backpack sprayers fill with anti-viral spray to disinfect. Also commerical golf course spray carts to sanitize pedestrian walking areas. Commerical trash vaccumes and sreet washers will also help with the challenges of 3 million plus people. Again, personnal hygiene and proactive behavior by all attending will help meet the challenge of fighting the spread of viruses.
I just want to get people aware of this swine flu more and more and take precautions accordingly. Oh man this has killed so many people. If you are interested check the article below to know all about swine flu (I have collected around 200 links to good articles and sites about swine flu) http://markthispage.blogspot.com/2009/06/all-you-want-to-know-about-swine-flu.html