First swine flu case reaches Mideast via Israel

No kissing Lebanese health minister tells residents


Israel confirmed on Tuesday its first case of swine flu, the first case in the Middle East, saying tests showed a man who recently returned from Mexico and was hospitalized had contracted the virus.

"There is one confirmed case. His condition is good but he is being kept hospitalized for observation," said Health Ministry spokeswoman Einav Shimron.

Israel's deputy health minister said on Monday that health authorities were well prepared to handle any outbreak of the new strain of flu virus.

The Israeli who contracted the virus was identified as a 26-year-old man. He was hospitalized on Saturday after complaining of flu-like symptoms following his return from a visit to Mexico.

Doctors in Israel were awaiting test results on another man, who had travelled to Mexico and was hospitalized after arriving home with flu symptoms.

The virus is thought to have begun at a village in the state of Vera Cruz, east of Mexico City. So far 149 people have died in Mexico and the virus has since spread to the United States, Canada, Spain and Scotland.

There is one confirmed case. His condition is good but he is being kept hospitalized for observation

Health Ministry spokeswoman Einav Shimron

Kissing ban

With the World Health Organization warning that transmission of the disease is occuring from human to human, the health minister in Lebanon is warning against getting too close to avoid contracting the airborne virus.

Health Minister Mohammed Jawad Khalifef told Lebanese to refrain from their traditional three-kiss-on-the-cheek greetings and advised students with colds to stay at home and farm workers to wear gloves and masks.

Preparing in the Middle East

The WHO advised Middle East countries to monitor travelers arriving from the United States and Mexico for signs of the virus but said it was not necessary to impose quarantine on them all.

The world health body also said it has three million capsules of Tamiflu stock in Dubai which will be distributed in the Middle East if there is an outbreak.

Health Minister Humaid Mohammad Obeid al-Qutami said Tuesday measures and precautions will be taken at local airports -- key travel hubs between Europe, Africa and Asia -- to ensure that no infected humans would enter the country.

Several countries banned pork imports, though experts have said the flu does not spread through cooked food and that it is safe to eat pork.

The United Arab Emirates has banned meat and pork products from some parts of the United States. Lebanon banned imports of pigs and uncooked pork, while Jordan banned all meat products from affected countries.