UAE bans import of poultry products from other countries

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Dubai, May 18 (UNI) The National Committee for Emergency Response to Bird Flu warns holidaymakers to be aware of the items they pack in their bags when returning from trips abroad.

With summer time approaching and more people travelling outside the UAE, security checks will be tightened at airports, sea and land borders to make sure the country remains bird flu-free.

"No poultry or any other bird products are allowed into the country," stressed Dr Maan Ahmed al Hakim, manager of biosecurity at Environment Agency N Abu Dhabi.

He told Khaleej Times recently that this means anything from chicken meat and eggs to birds' feathers. "Of course, if it's a case of a piece of cake made with eggs for personal consumption, we would allow it, but not if there are fresh or cooked eggs," mentioned Al Hakim.

"There are no fines or other penalties, but if someone is caught with bird products, we will confiscate them and we are extra careful when passengers arrive from countries where avian influenza cases are reported," he added.

According to him, the UAE has banned the import of poultry and other bird products from most Asian countries and several African and European ones. "If the H5N1 virus was found in one particular place, we impose the ban to the region, rather than the entire country," mentioned Al Hakim.

As the World Health Organisation (WHO) reports, 27 countries have reported cases of bird flu in the last six months and the UAE has a poultry ban on all of them. WHO, which has the UAE as a member, further warns travellers to countries affected by bird flu to stay away from any contact with live birds.

"Large amounts of the virus are known to be excreted in the droppings from infected birds. Direct contact with infected poultry, or surfaces and objects contaminated by their droppings, is considered the main route of human infection. Exposure risk is considered highest during slaughter, defeathering, butchering, and preparation of poultry for cooking. There is no evidence that properly cooked poultry or poultry products can be a source of infection," state the organisation's experts.

UNI XC NC VC1205

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