In the UK, where an estimated 100,000 cases of swine flu are being diagnosed each week, some Muslim health care workers are refusing to use hand sanitizers due to their alcohol content.
Some of those employed by St Albans Council in Hertfordshire have complained about the antibacterial lotion, which is considered a key strategy in containing the virus. Officials were concerned because the Koran bans Muslims from consuming alcohol, so council chiefs issued them with non-alcohol hand gels, which studies have shown to be less effective in killing bugs. But Muslim leaders criticised the council’s decision to change the gel, pointing out that Islamic teachings allow Muslims to use alcohol for medicinal purposes.
The Muslim Council of Britain is telling people to use the hand gels, but that “people need to find ways to accommodate their beliefs.” Twenty-nine people have died of the swine flu in the UK since May.