A senior religious figure has suggested that for the time being Palestinians refrain from embracing and kissing anyone who returns from abroad for fear they may be carrying the H1N1 virus, also known as swine flu.
The mufti of the West Bank city of Nablus Sheikh Ahmed Shobash, said "according to Sharia (Islamic law), it is forbidden to hug or kiss anyone suffering from a contagious disease in order to prevent it from spreading."
Thursday morning the Palestinian Authority reported that seven more people have been diagnosed with H1N1 in the Ramallah area, bringing the total number of Palestinians who have contracted the disease to 40.
All of the Palestinians who were diagnosed with swine flu caught the disease from people who returned from aboard, particularly from the US.
Dr. Fuad El-Eisawi of the Palestinian Health Ministry said the disease has not spread to the Gaza Strip because Israel's blockade prevented its residents from leaving or entering the Hamas-ruled territory.