Saudi reports three swine flu deaths ahead of Hajj | world | Hindustan Times
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Saudi reports three swine flu deaths ahead of Hajj

world Updated: Oct 12, 2010 22:26 IST

Three people died in the past two weeks from swine flu in Saudi Arabia but there is no new threat from the disease, the health ministry said on Tuesday, just weeks ahead of the Hajj pilgrimage.

"There are three cases (of death), but that's normal --this is the season," health ministry spokesman Khaled Marghlani said.

Marghlani said the pace of infection from the H1N1 flu virus, which sparked fears of a global pandemic last year, was not distinguishable from generic flu infections.

He said that no special precautions were being taken for H1N1 for the Hajj, as some two million or more Muslims began arriving in the country this week for the annual pilgrimage to the holy cities of Mecca and Medina in early November.

Pilgrims are strongly urged to get seasonal vaccinations for flu, which this year include coverage for swine flu, as recommended by the World Health Organisation, Marghlani said.

"The WHO said you should deal with this flu just the same as the regular flu," he said.

Saudi Arabia recorded 124 deaths last year from H1N1 influenza and infections estimated in the low tens of thousands, much less than had been feared.

Extensive vaccination and monitoring programmes were set in place to prevent the spread of the flu as millions jammed together for Hajj rituals.