Tuesday, 28 July 2009

H1N1 panic : media frenzy, health ministry confusion

So Gulf News announced that if you live in the UAE, and you're currently abroad, before thinking about returning, you better get yourself a medical certificate that states you do NOT have the H1N1 virus.

I read this on Seabee's blog and alarm bells rang. My parents are currently out of the country, returning some time in the next few days (they got robbed and need new passports & residencies, but that's another story). So , I desperately wanted more information.

Interestingly, none of the UAE Arabic newspapers mention anything about the need for a medical certificate clearing inbound passengers to the country of H1N1. They all carried the story of the Saudi death, and the Ministry of Health's announcement warning anyone with symptoms to immediately visit a clinic or hospital and avoid crowded places.

In Emarat Al Youm, however, front page story about the MoH announcing it will give anti-H1N1 vaccines to all school students as of September. And in case of an infection, the concerned school will be closed and all students, teachers & school staff will be quarantined in their homes for a period of 5-7 days.

Now, as far as I'm aware, and according to the latest update from the World Health Organisation, there isn't yet an H1N1 vaccine. So are they just going to give all the kids flu shots? Does that help?


  1. No, it doesn't help. To be effective the vaccine has to be specific for the particular strain of flu and the H1N1 vaccine, as you say, is still being tested.

    The world is in a panic over a flu which isn't even as deadly as the 'normal' flu we get every year.

  2. Well here are the updates from the UAE MOH (my husband works their and closely to the swine flu committe), they discovered the vaccine already in Europe and it is being manufactured now, and countries of the world are lined up to get their share, and the good news is that the UAE MOH is the 5th in line and they expect their share by September. So hopefully the students will get their vaccines.

    As for the news of getting a certificate for the H1N1 I really hope they do that!!!!! my father in law is at KSA doing Omrah and I'm scared to death he'll come back with the flu :(

  3. Yeah it doesn't seem to be so serious - it's almost impossible to differentiate b/w the symptoms of swine flu & normal flu. I know a couple people who have had it and they're fine now. Putting aside the very elderly and the very young, some healthy people didn't even realize they had it.

    As far as I understand it, the panic is about what will happen in the event that the virus mutates into a more potent form. But the media frenzy has made the situation much more fraught that it actually is I think. The WHO statement about raising the alert level is actually a lot milder than it seemed reading about it in the papers:


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