Public Health

Egyptians Told To Pray In Open Areas To Thwart Swine Flu

Not to pick on Egypt but that nation continues to exhibit among the most extreme reactions to swine flu to be seen internationally.

Egypt's health minister has reportedly told Muslims to avoid pilgrimages for the next three weeks as well as closed-in mosques, urging them to pray in open areas so as not to spread the new H1N1 virus.

Of course, there hasn't been a single swine flu case reported in Egypt. But that hasn't stopped the government from ordering the early slaughter of all the nation's 350,000 pigs. And now there's this recommendation for outdoor prayer.

It would seem if there's this much official worry in Egypt over the virus, there would've been an order by now to avoid planes, trains and buses. But for a nation that depends as much on tourism as Egypt, the discouraging the use of public transportation could have a very real economic impact, which is maybe why the government hasn't taken that step.

The Los Angeles Times' Babylon & Beyond blog reports on Egypt's latest reaction ( some might say overreaction) to the swine flu. An excerpt:

Egypt's health minister has called on Muslims to refrain from going on pilgrimages for the next three weeks and to avoid closed mosques. A similar call was made to the Christian community, which was asked to hold services in open areas to help ward off the spread of the H1N1 flu virus to Egyptian territories, according to al-Masry al-Youm.

Health minister Hatem Gabaly made these calls at an extraordinary summit of Arab health ministers aimed at finding the most effective way to protect the Middle East against swine flu, said the report published in today's issue of the independent daily.

Gabaly confirmed that no swine flu cases had been discovered in Egypt.

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