H1N1 virus claims 6 lives in Gaza: Palestinian official

By Nour Abu Aisha and Hani al-Shaer

GAZA CITY, Palestine (AA) – At least six people have died after contracting the H1N1 virus in the blockaded Gaza Strip, according to a Palestinian official.

Salama Maarouf, a spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas-run government, told Anadolu Agency on Thursday that Gaza’s Health Ministry had recorded 12 cases of H1N1, six of whom had succumbed to the virus.

According to Maarouf, Gaza’s health sector lacks the basic medicine necessary to deal with the virus due to Israel’s decade-long blockade of the coastal enclave.

In a Thursday statement, the ministry said it had recorded "several cases of influenza caused by different types of viruses, leading to an outbreak of seasonal influenza and a number of deaths”.

The ministry added, however, that the total number of registered cases “falls within the normal seasonal prevalence rate” for the disease.

Since 2007, the Gaza Strip has groaned under a crippling Israeli blockade that has deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities, including medicine and basic medical supplies.