Iran Air to suspend flights to Saudi Arabia due to swine flu outbreak from August 11, 2009

Monday, August 10, 2009, 12:31 by Aviation Correspondent

Iran Air has decided to stop all its flights to Saudi Arabia with effect from August 11, 2009, because of the outbreak of the H1N1 virus pandemic (swine flu) in Saudi Arabia. Iran Air will not run any flights to Saudi Arabia during Ramadan,  to prevent the spread of influenza type A (swine flu), an official of the Aviation Organization of Iran told reporters.

The decision came into effect after the Iranian government banned all pilgrims traveling to Saudi Arabia during the fasting month of Ramadan, on August 5, 2009.

The holy, fasting month of Ramadan is likely to run from August 22, 2009 to September 19, 2009.

Iran operated the last flight to Saudi Arabia on August 10, 2009.

All the Iranian pilgrims in Saudi Arabia will be flown back to Iran by the time the Ramadan month begins, the Iranian official added.

Thousands of Iranians fly to Saudi Arabia each year to visit Kaaba – the ‘House of God on Earth’ – in Mecca during the pilgrimage of Hajj.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry of Iran has announced that the number of people infected with the H1N1 virus in Iran has gone up to 144.

However, according to the Health Ministry, the speed of the spread of the swine flu in Iran slowed down this week.

Out of those infected with the swine flu, 50% of the patients are believed to be Hajj pilgrims who returned from Saudi Arabia, and the rest of the infected have returned from journeys to other countries, including countries in south-east Asia, the Health Ministry explained.

It may be noted that Saudi Arabia is leading the efforts to prevent the spread of the swine flu by limiting the number of people who wish to go on the Hajj pilgrimage this year.

Many other Arab nations also have decided to allow only those with no serious health problems and only those between the ages of 12 and 65 to make the pilgrimage to Mecca.

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