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Flu Fears Prompt Iranian Ban on Ramadan Pilgrimages

Iran has banned its citizens from making pilgrimages to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan in an effort to slow the spread of the H1N1 virus, commonly known as swine flu.

Iranian health officials announced the ban Thursday. The Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins in late August.

Iran has registered more than 140 cases of swine flu.

Last month, Arab health ministers agreed to impose restrictions on this year's Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca in another bid to limit the spread of swine flu.

After meeting in Cairo two weeks ago, more than a dozen ministers agreed to exclude people under the age of 12 and over the age of 65 from taking part in the Hajj in Saudi Arabia. In addition, they decided people who suffer from chronic illnesses cannot make the pilgrimage.

Saudi Arabia first recommended restricting participation in the annual pilgrimage after a number of flu cases were reported in the kingdom.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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