Bahrain extends livestock clamp on Ebola-hit countries
Manama, August 21, 2014
Bahrain has extended its ban on livestock imports from Ebola-hit countries to cover all animals of any species, living or dead.
The move is part of the government's plan to prevent the severe illness, which has killed more than 1,200 people in West Africa this year alone, from reaching Bahrain's shores, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), animals designated as high-risk of infection include fruit bats, monkeys or apes from "affected rainforest areas".
"Bahrain has banned all camel imports and all animal imports from all affected countries," a Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry official told the GDN.
"It was a co-ordinated decision taken between our ministry and the Health Ministry to ensure the safety of Bahrain's residents.
"Liberia, Kenya, Guinea and Sierra Leona are on the list of countries from which no animals can be imported.
"Sudan is still open but all African countries are under constant review," he added.
Kenya, on the east coast of the African continent, has not recorded any Ebola-related cases since the beginning of this year's outbreak and on Saturday announced that it was closing its borders to travellers from some of the worst-hit West African states.
"With a virus like this, Bahrain's government is taking no chances," said the official.
"We haven't received any complaints from people that import from these countries, as it also protects their own companies from the virus and doesn't affect their export status to other countries.
"The ban has been well received by all, but we don't know how long this ban will be in place - it will be at least until the situation with Ebola changes for the better."
Camel farmers in Bahrain are unlikely to be affected by the ban, as the export of camels is not restricted and most are imported from Pakistan, Egypt, Saudi Arabia and Sudan, the official said.
Ebola virus disease is a particularly deadly illness, with the fatality rate in the most virulent strains running as high as 90 per cent.
It is transmitted to people from wild animals and spreads through the human population by direct contact between people.
The US Centres for Disease Control and Prevention has described Haj pilgrims in Mecca as exposed to "unique health risks" due to the crowds and mass gatherings present during the annual event.
Because of these risks, Saudi Arabia has suspended its issuance of Haj visas for pilgrims from Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Earlier this month rumours began to circulate on social media that fruit bats, acknowledged by the WHO as being the "natural host of the Ebola virus", were being sold in Isa Town traditional market.
The Municipalities and Urban Planning Affairs Ministry has announced it is taking the allegations "very seriously" and would launch an investigation into such practices. - TradeArabia News Service