UAE To Increase Screening Of GCC Camel Shipments Over MERS Fears

All camel shipments from the GCC will be quarantined for 24 to 28 hours until the laboratory tests are conducted, the ministry said.



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The UAE’s ministry of environment and water said that livestock shipments from the GCC, which do not meet the approved import requirements, will not be allowed into the country, state news agency WAM reported.

The ministry said in a statement that it is implementing strict veterinary and biosecurity protocols along with preventive measures against animal infections and epidemic diseases at the border checkpoints.

Strict screening will be carried out to check if the camels imported from the GCC to the UAE are free from viruses such as burcellosis and the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), the statement said.

Camel shipments from the GCC will also be quarantined for 24 to 28 hours until laboratory tests are conducted, the ministry said.

Officials have said that such measures are part of its policy to protect public health and prevent “imported epidemics” and other communicable diseases.

The MERS virus emerged in the Middle East in 2012, with cases reported in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Jordan, UAE, Oman, Tunisia, Egypt, the Philippines, the US and parts of Europe so far.

But a possible link to camels acting as an animal reservoir to the virus has spread havoc among Gulf states. This has led to the government to issue warnings about precautions to be taken when dealing with the animals.

Recently Saudi Arabia’s health minister Adel Fakeih warned people from consuming raw camel meat and milk due to the potential link with the virus.

Butchers and meat shops selling camel meat in the Kingdom, have subsequently reported a decline in sales, according to local daily Arab News.

Saudi Arabia, where the total number of infections climbed to 449, has seen a death toll of 121 due the virus.

The UAE, which recorded a sudden surge in affected cases during April, has not reported any additional MERS cases since then.

World Health Organisation (WHO) has also cautioned Middle East residents to avoid close contact with animals when visiting farms or barn areas where the virus is potentially circulating.

“For the general public, when visiting a farm or a barn, general hygiene measures, such as regular hand washing before and after touching animals, avoiding contact with sick animals, and following food hygiene practices, should be adhered to,” WHO said in a statement in its website.