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Nigeria Records First Swine Flu Death in Saudi Arabia


Saudi authorities say victim was not vaccinated against infection

A Nigerian pilgrim has died of swine flu in Saudi Arabia, according to Saudi health authorities. They say the pilgrim, a woman, was not vaccinated against H1N1 before arriving for the Hajj.

But the head of the Nigerian National Hajj Commission denies there has been a death. Ten Nigerians have been quarantined and no one has died, he says. The only recorded swine flu case in Nigeria is that of a nine year old American girl, says Health Minister Dr. Babatunde Osetimehin.

Dr. Lateef Olopenia is chief of infectious diseases at the Lagos University Teaching Hospital. He talks about H1N1 in Nigeria and what’s being done about it.

“I know the minister of health has been making some pronouncement in terms of making individuals to be aware of the potential of this virus. In terms of vaccination, I cannot tell you exactly what the federal government is doing,” he says.

But Olopenia says the Nigerian public has not been adequately informed about the dangers of the disease.

“Unfortunately…talking to people on the ground, I don’t have the impression that they know the nature of this virus and also the major problem that can be associated with it, because I talked to several people and they don’t know what the swine flu virus is.”

Nigeria also lacks the facilities and personnel to cope with a major swine flu epidemic, says Olopenia.

“It’s all talk about it but in terms of seeing what is on the ground, I have not seen much. They are making effort, but what is that effort translating to, I can’t really tell. But from what I have seen, there is some talk, but beyond the talk, I have not seen a lot of infrastructure.”

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