CAIRO: Health officials and parliament members reiterated that Egypt remains free of the H1N1 virus, otherwise known as swine flu, as the People’s Assembly (PA) suspended discussions on the situation.
Kamal Sabra, deputy minister of health, told Daily News Egypt that there are no reported cases of swine flu in Egypt so far.
The Ministry of Health, however, said that travelers are still undergoing medical checks upon arrival at any of Egypt’s airports.
MP Mohamed Khalil Kwaitah told Daily News Egypt that Parliament stopped discussing the situation after the government approved the PA’s request to slaughter Egypt’s pigs as “a main precautionary procedure to prevent the outbreak of the disease in the country.
However, Minister of Health, Hatem El-Gabaly, repeatedly pointed out during press conferences that the H1N1 virus is not related to pigs and “should instead be called the Mexican flu.
Pig framers have been resisting the pig culling decision, which resulted in clashes with police forces.
Abdel Aziz Saleh, pharmacology professor at Cairo University and former regional chairman of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) office in Egypt, warned against the spread of the virus in Egypt during the summer season.
Saleh’s statement came in a lecture he gave Tuesday at Dar Al-Hekma hospital tilted “Ways of being infected by the swine flu and pharmacists’ role in awareness and [prevention].
Saleh criticized the government for not having a “serious awareness campaign to fight a sudden outbreak of the disease in the country.
However, El-Gabaly had spoken about prevention methods at a press conference he held last week.
According to El-Gabaly, people can protect themselves against the disease by regularly washing their hands and covering their mouths when coughing or sneezing in public.
The minister also asked people to avoid kissing, hugging and any unnecessary physical contact with others.
El-Gabaly was also contemplating imposing restrictions on traveling to Saudi Arabia for pilgrimage, pending an assessment of the situation.
Out of a total 300,000 pigs, 2,000 have been slaughtered in Egypt since last week. The culling took place in Cairo, Helwan, Beheira, Giza, Minya, Sohag and Menufiya.
Farmers receive a LE 100 compensation for each slaughtered pig.
On Wednesday, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 1,516 swine flu cases in 22 countries.
Mexico reported 822 confirmed human cases, including 29 deaths, while the United States reported 403 cases and one death.
Mexico decided to reopen schools, universities and malls to the public after a two-week restriction that cost the country around $2 billion, according to press reports.
According to WHO, the following countries have been affected: Austria (1), Canada (165), China, Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (1), Colombia (1), Costa Rica (1), Denmark (1), El Salvador (2), France (4), Germany (9), Guatemala (1), Ireland (1), Israel (4), Italy (5), Netherlands (1), New Zealand (6), Portugal (1), Republic of Korea (2), Spain (57), Switzerland (1) and the United Kingdom (27). WHO continues to advise no restriction on regular travel or closure of borders.