Egypt’s much ado about nothing as swine flu hits

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The Egyptian authorities Tuesday announced that a first case of A (H1N1) influenza has been detected on their territory. A young girl from the United States is said to be carrying the virus. This case is also the first in Africa. The World Health Organization (WHO) has warned that the world could be approaching its first flu pandemic of the twenty-first century.

The mass slaughter of some 150 000 pigs has obviously proved futile to help prevent Egypt from the grip of the A/H1N1 (Swine flu). The virus has found its way into the land where indiscriminate slaughter of pigs, the livelihood of some of the country’s poorest but Coptic Christian populations, was widely reported both in the local and international media. The virus was detected on a 12 year-old girl from the United States, who is in the country for her summer holidays.

The announcement was made Tuesday by the Egyptian Health Minister, in a statement. The girl, an American-Egyptian, was placed under quarantine by the Cairo airport authorities Monday after showing symptoms of the dreaded swine flu. According to the Minister, the girl’s mother, who accompanied her during her trip to Egypt as well as the passengers who travelled aboard the same aircraft were not contaminated,

Towards the first pandemic of the twenty-first century

The detection of the disease in the land of the Pharaohs marks the very first time the flu has affected anyone on the African continent, which up till now had been spared. Egypt, after recently coming to terms with the avian flu, which has caused the death of some 27 people on its territory since February 2006, had strengthened port controls. These controls have so far led to some people, suspected to be carrying the A/H1N1 virus, being placed under quarantine.

The World Health Organization, following the announcement of the first African case, said Tuesday that the world is getting “closer” to its first pandemic of the twenty-first century, indicating that the H1N1 virus has begun to settle outside the Americas. Deputy Director General of WHO, Dr. Keiji Fukuda, indicated that, internationally, the WHO believes “that we are in phase five” [[A total of 18 965 people have been infected by the A (H1N1) influenza in 64 countries, according to latest assessments from the WHO. The disease has killed 117 out of which 103 are from Mexico, which is believed to have originated]], but we are “approaching phase six”, the maximum pandemic alert, “said

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