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Yemen on alert after 5 swine flu deaths

SANAA, Yemen, Dec. 31 (UPI) --
Public health officials in Yemen say they are setting up an operations center to deal with a potential outbreak of swine flu after the deaths of five people.



The most recent death from the H1N1 virus occurred Thursday at the Saudi German Hospital in Sanaa, the Yemen Times reported Monday.



Dr. Abdulhakeem al-Kohlani, an epidemiologist who directs Yemen's disease control agency, confirmed the death. Another four people died from the illness at the Science and Technology Hospital, and he said all five victims had advanced stages of the disease.



Kohlani said the patients might have survived if they had sought medical help earlier.



The country's health ministry decided Sunday to establish an operations center that would gather reports about potential swine flu cases from health facilities and hospitals throughout Yemen.



Both Kohlani and a World Health Organization representative in Yemen, Dr. Mohammed Osama, urged citizens not to panic.



Osama said "the situation isn't worrying" because cases of the flu typically rise with changes in the seasons.



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