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IdentifierCreatedClassificationOrigin
09KUWAIT436 2009-04-30 14:11:00 UNCLASSIFIED//FOR OFFICIAL USE ONLY Embassy Kuwait
Cable title:  

KUWAIT'S H1N1 FLU PREPARATIONS

Tags:   TBIO KFLU KSTH PGOV ECON KSCA KU 
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VZCZCXRO3449
PP RUEHAST RUEHDE RUEHDH RUEHDIR RUEHHM RUEHLN RUEHMA RUEHPB RUEHPOD
RUEHTM RUEHTRO
DE RUEHKU #0436/01 1201411
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
P 301411Z APR 09
FM AMEMBASSY KUWAIT
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC PRIORITY 3271
INFO RUEHZN/SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEHZM/GULF COOPERATION COUNCIL COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAUSA/DEPT OF HHS WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHPH/CDC ATLANTA GA PRIORITY
RUEHRC/DEPT OF AGRICULTURE WASHDC PRIORITY
RUEHGB/AMEMBASSY BAGHDAD PRIORITY 1414
RUEHAM/AMEMBASSY AMMAN PRIORITY 2008
					  UNCLAS SECTION 01 OF 02 KUWAIT 000436 

SENSITIVE
SIPDIS

STATE FOR NEA/ARP, OES/UHB, MED, AIAG
STATE PASS TO AID
HHS FOR OGHA
HHS PASS TO CDC
USDA PASS TO APHIS
AMMAN FOR ESTH HUB OFFICER
BAGHDAD FOR ESTH

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: TBIO KFLU KSTH PGOV ECON KSCA KU
SUBJECT: KUWAIT'S H1N1 FLU PREPARATIONS

REF 08 KUWAIT 315



1. (SBU) Summary: Drawing on pre-existing avian influenza
preparatory work, the GOK is proactively implementing measures to
prepare Kuwait for a possible pandemic outbreak related to H1N1
influenza. Current measures include: passenger screening (for high
temperature) at airports and seaports; procurement of additional
antiviral medication; referral of suspected cases, if any, to the
Infectious Diseases Hospital; monitoring and treatment of those in
contact with suspected cases, if any; establishment of an H1N1 flu
hotline; and contingency plans for school closings and restrictions
on public gatherings including election rallies. Meanwhile, Post
has initiated daily meetings of a sub-group of the pandemic
influenza working group and has disseminated two warden messages,
one of which was carried on front pages in local newspapers April


30. End Summary



2. (SBU) Emboffs met with Dr. Musaab Al-Saleh, Director of the
Communicable Diseases Department at the Ministry of Health (MOH),
and his deputy, Dr. Najla Al-Odhaidhan on April 30 to discuss the
GOK's pandemic influenza preparedness. Al-Saleh, who is the GOK's
principal coordinator for pandemic flu preparedness, provided a
detailed overview of the Ministry's planning, as well as measures at
Kuwait International Airport. Al-Saleh -- a respected U.S.-trained
public health expert -- was open in his opinion that the H1N1 flu
outbreak had significant potential to result in a global pandemic.
He emphasized that updates and guidelines enunciated by the USG's
CDC and the WHO are informing his department's policies vis-`-vis
H1N1 influenza.

AIRPORT MEASURES


--------------------------





3. (SBU) MOH officials at the airport have begun screening
passengers arriving from affected countries, including the U.S. and
the United Kingdom. Medical personnel are checking passengers'
temperatures using non-invasive laser technology. Musaab said that
the GOK had placed an "urgent" order for thermal scanning equipment,
computers and software, which will be installed at the airport in
approximately 10 days. He said that arriving passengers would be
asked to complete health questionnaires and would be instructed to
report to a Government clinic if they developed flu-like symptoms
within seven days of arriving in Kuwait. However, recent reports
from the airport and the local United Airlines office indicate that
airport authorities are imposing more stringent requirement, whereby
all passengers arriving from the U.S. and other affected countries
are required to report to a Government hospital within 72 hours of
arriving in Kuwait. (Note: Econoff subsequently spoke to Al-Saleh
who insisted that his earlier statement stood and that the airport
authorities' actions were not authorized by his office. He
undertook to try to correct the situation. Post will continue to
follow up. End note).



4. (SBU) Al-Saleh said that the GOK had no plans to restrict entry
to travelers from affected countries; he added that any such
decision is "political" and would likely involve the Council of
Ministers. He agreed to remain in constant contact with the Embassy
on this subject. He noted that the GOK was concerned about the
impact of a pandemic in Iraq and the potential for Iraqis to try to
cross into Kuwait, which could overwhelm Kuwait's health care
system.



5. (U) Al-Odhaidhan said that the MOH was implementing procedures
developed over the past three years to contend with an avian
flu-initiated pandemic. As such, she and Al-Saleh voiced confidence
in the MOH's ability to react to suspected cases of H1N1 flu in
Kuwait. They said that all doctors had been instructed to refer
suspected cases to the Infections Diseases Hospital and that all
testing would be undertaken by the MOH's virology laboratory, which
has been in communication with the CDC in Atlanta, GA. They said
that people who might have been in contact with those affected by
H1N1 flu would be monitored and, where appropriate, provided with
antiviral medicines and/or quarantined in their homes.



6. (U) The MOH has established an H1N1 flu hotline for citizens and
residents of Kuwait, currently open from 8am to 10pm, though
Al-Odhaidhan said the center's operations may become 24/7. Al-Saleh

KUWAIT 00000436 002 OF 002


said that 50% of the inquiries coming into the center relate to
travel and tourism: he said that the MOH was recommending that
Kuwaitis postpone tourism-related travel for the time being. The
MOH is forming a media team to handle outreach with local media and
may prepare a dedicated website for informing the general public.



7. (SBU) Al-Odhaidhan said that the GOK currently has 10 million
doses of Tamiflu and Al-Saleh said that the MOH is procuring a
further 2.5 million doses. He said the MOH was also procuring
additional stocks of Relenza.



8. (SBU) Al-Saleh said that GOK officials have discussed the
possibility of closing schools and restricting public gatherings in
the event of an outbreak in Kuwait. Responding to a question from
emboffs, he said that if the situation warranted it, he and his
superiors would formally recommend postponing the parliamentary
elections slated for May 16.



9. (SBU) Al-Saleh asked for information regarding the U.S.
military's measures to screen servicemen and women arriving in
Kuwait. Emboffs told him that U.S. military elements in Kuwait have
worked on pandemic flu preparedness and that a formal briefing could
be arranged, if the MOH so requested.

POST'S MEASURES


--------------------------





10. (SBU) A sub-group of Post's pandemic influenza working group is
meeting daily to ensure coordination and flow of information (MGMT,
CONS, ECON, HU, RSO and PAS). The pandemic influenza working group
will meet on Sunday, April 3, to review Post's tripwires and to
discuss preparedness. (Note: Post recently completed an extensive
redrafting of pandemic influenza tripwires (reftel). End note).



11. (U) Post's consular section disseminated warden messages
relating to H1N1 influenza preparedness on April 29 and 30, the
earlier of which was carried on front pages in local newspapers.

JONES