MANILA, Philippines — Two more Filipino nurses were among the latest batch of people confirmed with A(H1N1) virus in Saudi Arabia, a Jeddah-based online news site reported Wednesday.
Arab News said the two nurses, aged 51 and 52, were part of the six new cases identified in the kingdom in the past 24 hours, bringing the total number of reported cases there to 45.
Health officials in Saudi Arabia said five of the six new cases are people who contracted the virus from patients in various hospitals in Riyadh, while the sixth case is a 25-year-old Saudi man who arrived from New Delhi Tuesday.
"The new cases in Riyadh include two Filipino nurses aged 51 and 52, a 21-year-old Saudi man, and two Saudi girls aged six months and one year," the report said.
The two nurses became the 4th and 5th Filipino nurses tested positive for the flu virus in the oil-rich kingdom.
The kingdom’s first swine flu case was also a Filipino nurse who works at the King Faisal Specialist Hospital and Research Center in the Saudi capital.
A week later, another Filipino nurse working at the King Fahd National Guard Hospital also in Riyadh was reported to be among the new A(H1N1) cases there.
On June 19, a 32-year-old Filipino nurse working in Jubail, Eastern Province, became the 30th confirmed swine flu case in the kingdom.
She was tested positive for the virus seven days after she arrived from the Philippines. She was still reportedly confined at the Aramco Hospital in Dammam, while the 1st and 2nd nurses have already recovered and discharged from hospital.
Community organizations in Saudi Arabia have expressed concern that the infection of Filipino nurses could lead to discrimination against Filipinos working in Saudi Arabia, especially that the Philippine tally of A(H1N1) cases had been rising.
On Wednesday, the Philippine tally was recorded at 604, including one death.
Saudi Arabia, the world’s biggest oil producer, is the largest employer of Filipino contract workers, estimated at 1.2 million last year.
Saudi health officials, however, have explained to the public that the A(H1N1) disease is a pandemic that has affected many countries in the world, including the wealthy ones. Some of the cases have arrived from the United States or from Europe.
Khaled Al-Mirghalani, spokesman for the Ministry of Health, said the Saudi man who was tested positive for swine flu on Tuesday arrived at Jeddah’s King Abdulaziz International Airport from India aboard Saudi Arabian Airlines Flight SV763.
"This is the first time we have found a case in a passenger coming from India," he said, adding that the volume of passenger traffic between the kingdom and India is huge.
He requested passengers who traveled aboard SV763 yesterday to monitor their health condition and any visible symptoms should be brought to the immediate notice of health officials.
The numbers to be contacted in the western provinces are 02-6640288 or 02-6640256. Lines are open between 8 a.m. and 11 p.m.
Al-Mirghalani said the ministry has shifted the venue of its workshop on swine flu from Riyadh to Jeddah due to logistic reasons.
“It will now be held for three days from Sunday," he was quoted by Arab News as saying.
Experts attending the workshop will be taken on field trips to the Haj Terminal of King Abdulaziz International Airport and other places with huge concentration of pilgrims to get their ideas and suggestions in overcoming the current health crisis.
Al-Mirghalani said Health Minister Dr. Abdullah Al-Rabeeah, who is slated to inaugurate the workshop, is open to any constructive suggestions to combat the disease. - GMANews.TV