The lesson of this story is don’t be traveling to Egypt if you have a temperature over 38C (100.4F)…if you do, you might be spending the first few days of your trip in less than pleasant conditions held by gun-point and no passport!

Armed airport guards marched off forty British children on vacation with their families as they landed in Egypt because they were thought to have swine flu.  Horrified parents watched as officials used draconian legislation to hold anyone with a temperature of more than 38C. Some children – a few as young as four – were kept apart from their parents for five days in a makeshift hospital – even though they had no symptoms of the H1N1 virus.

Sarah and Chris Kemp said they were terrified when daughter Ellie, eight, was grabbed after the family was scanned by hidden thermal imaging cameras in the terminal at Sharm el Sheikh International.  Mr. Kemp and Ellie were forced to spend five days of their £1,650 holiday in a ‘hellhole’ hospital, sharing a urine-stained bed in a mosquito-filled room with about 30 other families.

He said: ‘We were at passport control when this policeman, who was dressed all in white and had a gun, came and grabbed my daughter’s arm without warning. ‘She was screaming. At first I slapped his hand off her arm but they said, as her temperature was 38C they needed to take her to hospital. ‘They demanded our passports at gunpoint and then refused to give Ellie’s back.’  Armed guards stopped Mrs. Kemp, who insisted her daughter had no swine flu symptoms, from staying with them.

She said: ‘This bloke just grabbed my daughter who was screaming. It was the most frightening experience of my life. She and her dad were stuck in a room you wouldn’t leave your dog in.’ The family, have complained to the British government and are now seeking a refund from travel agency, who they say should have warned them about the situation.

Airport guards in Egypt will quarantine travellers with above normal temperatures

On October 30, Egypt has reported the 4th death from H1N1, according to the Al-Ahram newspaper.  A 36-year-old woman from Ismailia Governorate died of H1N1 on October 29. Up until now, the Ministry has reported more than 1000 cases of the novel pandemic influenza virus in this most populous Arab country. Egypt reported its 1st case of pandemic H1N1 on 2 June 2009, a 12-year-old Egyptian-American girl coming from the United States via the Netherlands.

As it was hit hard by the fatal H5N1 (bird flu) in 2006, Egypt decided in late April 2009 to cull all pigs in the country, as a preventative measure, to stem the pandemic virus.

ProMED Digest V2009 #506