7th APRIL 2015 - Vol.XXXVIII No.018
Local News

Bird flu clamp pledge

BAHRAIN is now monitoring all imports of eggs and poultry as health officials work to reduce the risk of bird flu entering the country.

Under the new measures all importers must now produce documentation stating their goods are free of bird flu, revealed Health Ministry communicable diseases section head Dr Muna Al Mousawi.

She said the rule was introduced just days before the latest outbreak in Saudi Arabia, which announced it had culled 160,000 birds in Riyadh on Tuesday.

"This process has already begun and will continue as long as the threat of the disease is there," Dr Al Mousawi told the GDN yesterday.

"All importers are adhering to the new guidelines, which will be in place for as long as it is considered necessary. We have taken all precautions and will continue to do so.

"The threat is there and we are prepared to ward it off.

"The ministry is co-ordinating with Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry officials to ensure Bahrain remains free of the epidemic."

However, she repeated earlier assurances that Bahrain was ready for any eventuality with emergency teams on standby in the event of any outbreak here.

"Short of looking after actual patients if an outbreak happens, we have done everything else," she said.

Among measures in place are a bird flu isolation ward, which has remained on standby at Salmaniya Medical Complex for the past year ready to accept human patients with the HN51 strain of the virus.

A bird flu committee has been established, medical staff have received refresher training on what to do in the event of an outbreak, around 1,000 poultry workers have been immunised against the regular flu virus to reduce the risk of them contracting the human strain and booklets have been printed in Arabic, Hindi, Malayalam, Bengali and English informing them of general precautions.

Meanwhile, Municipalities and Agriculture Ministry's animal wealth director Dr Salman Abdul Nabi said yesterday that poultry imports from Saudi Arabia and other countries affected by bird flu continue to be banned.

He said inspections of poultry farms were continuing on a daily basis to ensure "all that is necessary" is being done to keep the disease at bay.

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