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Saudi Health Minister: Five Swine Flu Deaths During Hajj


Abdullah al-Rabeeah says five deaths are among 73 reported cases, and precautionary measures taken by Saudi health officials were responsible for containing the spread of the virus

Saudi Arabia's health minister said Sunday that five people had died from swine flue during the annual Hajj. They were among 73 confirmed cases.

Fears of a major outbreak of swine flu during the annual Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca have not materialized, according to Saudi Health Minister Abdullah al-Rabeeah. He indicated that other contagious or infectious diseases were also kept in check.

Al-Rabeeah said five pilgrims had died from swine flu, among 73 reported cases.

He said precautionary measures taken by Saudi health officials were responsible for containing the spread of the virus. He added that no other outbreak of serious or infectious diseases among pilgrims occurred.

Saudi health officials, working with international health agencies kept close tabs on the more than two million Muslims who made the pilgrimage to the holy city of Mecca.

Signs and posters advised pilgrims to wash their hands, and sanitizers were placed in many strategic locations. Some pilgrims wore protective masks to prevent the spread of germs.

Arab health officials began preparations for the annual pilgrimage early this year, screening pilgrims for health concerns in their home countries before visas were granted.

Saudi Arabia stipulated in July that no individuals under the age of 12 or over the age of 65 would be allowed to participate in this year's Hajj, due to swine flu concerns.

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