Monday, July 19, 2010

IRIN Analysis: Egypt’s Response To The Pandemic



# 4734



Very early on in the pandemic of 2009, a number of countries imposed tough – some would even say `harsh’ – methods to try to control its spread.


Thousands of schools were closed, travelers were separated from their families and quarantined, and in a few cases, airline flights to some countries were even canceled. 


A couple of examples examples include:



Beijing gets tough on flu prevention

By Li Xinran  |   2009-6-24  |

BUSINESSES, public institutions and government organizations in Beijing found of doing a poor job of implementing swine flu emergency measures will be fined up to 200,000 yuan (US$29,200), the city government said yesterday.

Travellers warned of new India swine flu measures

Monday, 22 June 2009: India

Rebecca Burns

Travellers to India from countries affected by swine flu (including the UK) are likely to be asked questions or be checked for symptoms by medical staff, according to the UK Foreign Office (FCO).

Travellers suspected of having H1N1 will be admitted to designated governemnt hospitals for compulsory quarantine, testing and treatment.



Eventually, most of these barriers were relaxed as the virus spread past them, and as the virulence of the virus became better understood.


In Egypt, the governmental reaction to the pandemic was extremely vigorous, and often controversial.  Heightened, perhaps, by legitimate concerns over the co-circulation of H5N1 `bird flu’ in that country.


For years, Egyptian Health officials had looked for an opportunity to eliminate pigs from their country.  With the emergence of a new strain of swine flu, and concerns that pigs could be vectors, the decision was quickly reached to eradicate hundreds of thousands of swine.


The unintended consequence – beyond the hardship placed on pig farmers by the destruction of their herds – is that their cities were overrun with the garbage that the pigs used to eat.


From IRIN (Integrated Regional Information Networks), which was founded in 1995 and is part of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs, we get analysis of Egypt’s reaction to the Swine Flu pandemic.



Analysis: Did the government overreact to H1N1?

Amr Emam/IRIN

Piles of garbage being burned in Cairo's streets

CAIRO, 18 July 2010 (IRIN) - While a review is underway of how the World Health Organization (WHO) and national authorities handled last year’s outbreak of the H1N1 virus, also referred to as swine flu, medical experts in Egypt have criticized their government for overreacting to the pandemic, provoking unjustified fear and wasting millions of dollars-worth of much-needed public funds.


“Egypt is probably the only country in the world that acted in such an insane way towards the virus,” Saed Aun, a former preventive medicine advisor to the Egyptian health ministry, told IRIN. “The Egyptian government applied the wrong policies in dealing with the crisis.”


When H1N1 was first detected in a university dormitory in April 2009, the Egyptian Cabinet in May decided to cull all the nation’s more than 350,000 pigs obstensibly to avert the spread of the virus, although the link between H1N1 and pigs had not been officially established.


Apart from the enormous loss to pig farmers, the culling led to an accumulation of rubbish on the streets of the capital as pigs had been eating much of it previously.


(Continue . . . )



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