Swine flu hits Gaza, five infected
Associated Press , THE JERUSALEM POST
Gaza health official Dr. Hassan Khalaf said the five patients were diagnosed Sunday.
The relatively late arrival of swine flu to the Gaza Strip is likely attributable to the same measure that has brought shortages and hardships otherwise - a strict blockade imposed by Israel since the Hamas overran the territory in 2007, expelling forces loyal to Western-backed Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
Shortages include medicines, but Israel insists it does not limit shipment of medical supplies to Gaza. Instead, Palestinians have said the rivalry between Hamas and Abbas's Palestinian Authority could be to blame.
The Palestinian Authority is responsible for sending medicines to Gaza, but officials there said Abbas' government routinely keeps Gaza in short supply.
One key shortage is swine flu vaccine.
Senior WHO official Mahmoud Daher said Gaza has only 1,000 vaccine doses for around 8,000 health employees, serving 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.
West Bank Health Ministry official Dr. Asad Ramlawi denied that the shortage is deliberate. He said 1 million doses would be arriving between mid-December and late January, and they would be divided between the two territories.
Daher said there was no need for panic, and that patients with chronic diseases, the elderly and pregnant women should be vigilant about their hygiene.
However, at Shifa Hospital, Gaza City's largest, an Associated Press reporter saw doctors and nurses refusing to go near a young woman believed to have the virus.
The young woman's family had to carry her to the isolation ward on a stretcher.
Ramlawi said 1,250 cases of swine flu have been reported in the West Bank. In neighboring Israel, the number is over 3,000.
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