Protecting against swine flu abroad
Photo: AP
Palestinian family quarantined for swine flu
Eleven family members in Burqa village test positive for viral disease. Rumor spreads quickly, causing panic – were mosque worshippers infected as well? Security forces buffer between family and village's 3,900 residents
The number of Palestinians infected with swine flue rose over the weekend as 11 incidents of the viral disease were discovered in the village Burqa, outside the West Bank city of Nablus. All of those stricken by the virus are from the same family and were apparently infected by a family member who returned from a trip to the United States last week.


The Palestinian Health Ministry and security forces have been dispatched to the town to prevent the virus' spread. Some 3,900 people live in Burqa.


The said family member returned from the United States on June 22. Three days later, family members started complaining of fever and a general sense of deteriorated health. The family members sought medical attention and tested positive for swine flu.


Word of the infection spread quickly throughout the village, and many villagers started to panic. Of their main concerns is the fact that some members of the afflicted family pray at the nearby mosque, such that there is significant worry that other worshippers may have been infected with flu when visiting the place of worship.


The Palestinian Authority stepped up the presence of security forces and police in the village, issuing an order to surround the family's compound in order to create a buffer between the family members and the rest of the village. The entire family was put into isolation. Some of the police stationed nearby wear cloth masks when entering the family's homes.


The district manager of the Health Ministry was also dispatched to the village in order to speak directly with the family and the villagers on how to prevent the spread of the virus.


The first case of swine flu in the Palestinian Authority was diagnosed on June 10, when a 4-year-old child from Bethlehem was put in quarantine upon returning with his family from a visit to the United States. The girl's family was also quarantined in Beit Jala Hospital. Since then, isolated cases have been identified in the PA.


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