Page last updated at 10:43 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Gaza swine flu outbreak kills three

Doctors at  al-Shifa hospital in Gaza City  wear facemasks
Until now swine flu has been prevented from spreading to the Gaza Strip

Three people have died from swine flu in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas-run health ministry has said.

A baby and two women were confirmed as the fist deaths from the H1N1 virus in the densely populated Palestinian coastal territory, a spokesman said.

Gaza is under a tight Israeli and Egyptian blockade, tightened since Hamas took over the strip in 2007.

World Health Organisation officials say that there are not enough swine flu vaccines to protect Gaza's hospitals.

Hassan Khalaf, a spokesman for the health ministry said there were four new cases discovered on Monday of people infected with the disease.

Senior WHO official Mahmoud Daher said the strip had only 1,000 vaccine doses for around 8,000 health employees, serving 1.5 million Palestinians in Gaza.

In the West Bank, at least 1,250 cases of swine flu have been reported, with nine deaths, according to official figures.

In Israel, 67 people have died out of 8,539 cases.

The late arrival of swine flu to Gaza has been attributed to the blockade by Israel and Egypt.

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