Swine flu 'more serious than hydrogen bomb': Muslim Brotherhood

Swine flu 'more serious than hydrogen bomb': Muslim BrotherhoodCairo - Swine flu is "more serious than the hydrogen bomb," the Muslim Brotherhood, Egypt's largest opposition group, said in a symposium on the health scare on Wednesday. No cases of swine flu have yet been reported in Egypt, although the Cairo parliament on Tuesday voted to slaughter the country's entire pig livestock of around 250,000 animals in a precautionary measure.

The Muslim Brotherhood - which although banned is Egypt's largest opposition bloc in parliament - voted for the cull, and said Wednesday that the swine flu outbreak demonstrated the wisdom of the Islamic ban on pork.

"It is God's grace in his Islamic Sharia to permit all that is good for us and to ban what is bad. We could understand the wisdom of the ban, or we could not understand it. But eventually time proves the truth of God's words to us," Sheikh al-Sayed Askar said at a Muslim Brotherhood-sponsored symposium on the virus Wednesday.

The World Health Organisation has said it is safe to eat pig meat.

"Swine influenza has not been shown to be transmissible to people through eating properly handled and prepared pork (pig meat) or other products derived from pigs," the organisation said on its website.

Although no cases of the swine flu have been reported in Egypt, neighbouring Israel on Wednesday reported its second case of the disease.

Both were tourists who had recently returned from Mexico, where the government on Wednesday said it could only confirm seven deaths from the virus, down from 20.

Representatives of the World Health Organisation in Egypt on have stressed that the country was well-equipped to confront the virus because of its experience with the related avian flu virus.

Islam, the religion of 90 per cent of Egypt's 80 million citizens, forbids eating the flesh of pigs.

In Cairo, poor Christian garbage-collectors raise pigs on food waste.

Speaking at the forum, Mohammed Seif, a professor at the University of Beni Suef, some 150 kilometres south of Cairo, said he feared they could spread the virus.

"Garbage-collectors could multiply the spread of the virus because they raise pigs and enter most Egyptian homes," he said.

The vast majority of confirmed swine flu cases have been in North America, but Britain, Spain and Germany have also confirmed two cases each. (dpa)