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    No bird flu cases among returning Hajj pilgrims - ministry

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    MOSCOW, January 23 (RIA Novosti) - No cases of bird flu have been diagnosed among Muslim pilgrims returning to Russia from Mecca, an official said Monday.

    Gennady Korotkin, a senior official with the Emergency Situations Ministry, said no sign of bird flu had been revealed in returning pilgrims, many of whom had traveled via Turkey, where at least four people have died from the H5N1 strain of the virus, on their way to Saudi Arabia.

    Korotkin said medical examinations for returning pilgrims had been organized at Mineralnye Vody airport in the Krasnodar Territory in connection with the avian flu recent outbreak in Turkey, but none of the 3,352 pilgrims who had so far arrived had displayed any symptoms. In all, about 7,000 pilgrims are expected back from the Middle East.

    A decision was made to ensure that all pilgrims would return to Russia direct by plane, as in previous years some pilgrims had returned to Russia via Turkey.

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