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Egyptian Airport Follows Israeli Lead, Screens for Swine Flu

Egyptian officials are following Israel's lead and now screen incoming travelers for symptoms of the swine flu as they disembark at Cairo Airport.
By Hana Levi Julian
First Publish: 6/10/2009, 4:56 PM / Last Update: 6/10/2009, 11:56 PM

Egyptian officials are following the lead of Israel's Health Ministry and began this week to screen incoming travelers for symptoms of the swine flu as they disembark at Cairo Airport, according to The Media Line. The move came after seven students at the American University in Cairo were diagnosed Sunday with the H1N1 virus – including five who had not complained of any symptoms.

Classes at the university were immediately cancelled for the week, and the entire dormitory was placed under quarantine. All seven patients were American students who are studying in Egypt.

Also on Sunday, a case of H1N1 virus was diagnosed for the first time in Israel's parliamentary building, the Knesset. The patient was an aide who had recently returned from the United States. More than a dozen more people had been diagnosed with the virus 24 hours later. At least 54 cases of the H1N1 virus have been confirmed in Israel to date.

The State of Israel has had a policy of checking incoming travelers who exhibit flu-like symptoms since the swine flu epidemic broke out late in April. Doctors have been stationed at border crossings and a special clinic was set up at Ben Gurion International Airport in order to facilitate the examinations. Travelers who arrive in Israel feeling ill are immediately checked by a medical professional; those with fever are sent to the emergency room for further examination.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said Tuesday that it may declare the first official influenza pandemic in 41 years. WHO director Keiji Fukuda said it has not done so thus far partly because the agency has tried to avoid the worldwide panic that might result.

According to the most recent WHO statistics, 140 people have died from the virus, which has spread to 73 countries and infected 26,563 victims since the outbreak erupted in Mexico.

Last month Israel's Health Ministry hosted Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian Authority representatives in Jerusalem to discuss the swine flu threat in the region. The meeting, which lasted some four and a half hours, took place at the WHO office in Jerusalem.