Saudi Arabia: First Swine Flu Death in Kingdom

Mohammad Rasooldeen / Arab News
Riyadh, Jul 28:
The Ministry of Health announced Monday the first swine flu death in the Kingdom. Saudi Arabia is now the third country in the region after Egypt and Israel to report a swine flu fatality.

“The victim, a Saudi male, 30, was admitted to Al-Mouwasat Private Hospital in Dammam at 6 p.m. Wednesday with complaints of high fever, continuous coughing and severe throat pain due to advanced bronchitis,” Health Ministry spokesman Dr. Khalid Al-Mirghalani said.

He added that on admission, the man was treated with tamiflu and intravenous antibiotics. “Eight hours after admission, the doctors found the patient’s condition worsening and he was moved to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the hospital where he was placed in a ventilator.” The patient died Saturday at 5:55 a.m. in the ICU.

His name is being withheld in deference to his family’s wishes.

Al-Mirghalani said that the dead man had contracted the disease from frequently visiting an infected individual. Besides the immediate reasons for admitting the flu victim to the hospital, he said the patient was obese and had severe breathing difficulties. Clinical tests by the ministry confirmed that the deceased was suffering from H1N1, Al-Mirghalani added.

On behalf of ministry officials, Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, who is also the chairman of the National Committee to Combat Swine Flu, sent a message of condolence on Monday to the bereaved family.

Al-Mirghalani said the ministry had alerted all health departments in the Kingdom to take extra precautions. He said the people should follow Health Ministry guidelines, which are in line with those of the World Health Organization. Washing one’s hands before touching one’s eyes and nose and covering the nose and mouth while sneezing or coughing are necessary precautions against the infection.

The ministry called on the public not to panic because of the death. The rate of death from swine flu is still well below that from common flu.

Since May 27, more than 300 patients have been affected by the flu in Riyadh, Dammam, Jeddah, Makkah and Madinah. More than 95 percent of the flu victims have recovered, according to a statement by the Ministry of Health.

Considering the arrival of pilgrims during Ramadan, the national committee is currently implementing a separate program for Umrah and Haj pilgrims who will visit the holy cities of Makkah and Madinah.

A quarantine facility has been set up at airport arrival lounges to separate Haj and Umrah pilgrims, who show swine flu symptoms. The Ministry of Health has stockpiled adequate quantities of tablets and vaccines to treat swine flu patients.


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