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US National is First Suspected Swine Flu Case in Bahrain


Manama, Bahrain-An American national underwent a series of tests in a government hospital on Thursday, after showing symptoms of the deadly swine flu.

The 41-year-old arrived from Washington via Frankfurt to the Gulf Island. According to doctors, he was reportedly having a high temperature, sore throat and other symptoms of the deadly virus which has claimed over 100 lives.

Thermal cameras which are operational at the Bahrain International Airport to monitor passenger's temperature did not detect the American.

"He went to a private hospital for flu treatment where doctors examined him and informed our special team formed at the Salmaniya Medical Complex to handle the case," Adel Abdulla, Head of the Public and International Relations at the Ministry of Health said.

The patient was immediately shifted to Ward-13 and kept in isolation.

quarantine ward
Quarantine ward for swine flu cases at the state run Salmaniya Medical Complex in the tiny island.

Blood samples of the patient were taken and a series of tests were conducted to determine whether the American traveller tested positive for the flu.

"The patient had symptoms of the flu but the tests revealed he was negative," Dr. Faisal Al Hamer, Minister of Health said after the testing. He further assured that the US national did not associate with anyone leading to spread of the infection."

An emergency committee is formed by health authorities who would monitor all flu related cases and keep vigil at all entry points. In addition, government pharmacies have stockpiled about 3 million anti- viral capsules which would cover about 20 percent of the population. There is no cure for the deadly virus, but health workers are using anti "viral drugs meant for avian flu.

Health authorities in the tiny island activated their contingency plans following the announcement by World Health Organization after the World Health Organization (WHO) Director-General, Dr Margaret Chan raised the current level of influenza pandemic alert from phase-4 to phase-5 which is characterized as pandemic alert. Israel is the only place in the Middle East that has registered a case of swine flu.

World governments are still working to rein in the swine flu epidemic, which started in Mexico and spread to USA, New Zealand, Canada. The Ministry of Municipalities and Agriculture Affairs here has already halted imports on pork products in the island from high risk countries.

"All pig products from flu affected countries have been stopped until further notice," Dr. Salman Abdulnabi, ead of the Animal Wealth Directorate said.

Recently, Bahrain hosted the 2009 Formula 1 Gulf Air Grand Prix which witnessed over 90,000 visitors attending the three day race which ended on April 26.

Bahrain hosts the US Navy Fifth Fleet.

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