Live poultry shops closed in UAE

DUBAI/ABU DHABI — The Minister of Environment and Water, Dr Mohammed Saeed Al Kindi, has ordered the closure of all live poultry shops in the UAE as a precautionary measure, following reports of an outbreak of bird flu in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait, recently.

A circular to this effect has been issued to all UAE Municipalities. And veterinary doctors and inspectors have been ordered to beef up their role to ensure no wild birds or poultry were brought in through any of the border check points.

At a meeting held by the Secretariat of the National Committee for Emergency Response (NCER) to Avian Flu yesterday, Al Kindi said, “The meeting focused on following up the directive issued by Shaikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, deputy chairman of the Committee on forming a permanent emergency action team to combat bird flu.”

Dr Al Kindi commended the cooperation between the Ministry and the Customs Departments to ensure that this directive was being followed.

Temporary ban

The decree issued last Thursday, enforcing a temporary ban on import of live birds and poultry from Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, is designed to protect the safety of poultry products in the UAE.

The assistant undersecretary of the Ministry of Environment and Water said veterinary doctors are also working with customs personnel at airports, where all incoming birds, poultry and poultry products are being held back for detailed inspections.

The NCER now plans to conduct mock drills in all emirates to test the reactions and alertness levels of emergency response teams. Representative of the armed forces have also confirmed the preparedness of their teams — which are already on full alert in this connection

The meeting also discussed the viability of issuing directives regarding various protection and control measures and initiatives to contact international and local authorities to ensure better coordination.

Measures regarding the quarantine of falcons, conducting lab tests to detect the virus, and implementing a ban on the smuggling of all kind of birds through the border check points, were also discussed at the NCER meeting.

Poultry farms

Commenting Al Kindi’s decision, Dr Hussein Hassanen, Technical Secretary of Poultry Producers Association said the UAE was safe but all these precautionary measures were being taken to avoid bird flu in the Emirates.

While poultry shops have been ordered to close down, poultry farms continue to operate normally. These poultry farms are complying with both international and local safety and health standards, he added.

Meanwhile, officials of the Public Health Department at Dubai Municipality (DM) said, “Live poultry shops were banned in the emirate about eight months ago. Moreover, our inspectors are keeping a tight check on the markets and various bird shops.”

Hisham Fahmi, Head of DM’s Veterinary Section, has urged all those having pet birds to visit their clinic at Mushref for a regular, precautionary, check ups. “We have also requested people not to buy any new birds or unknown birds. If they already have pet birds, they should be kept locked in proper cages, and any wild birds should not be allowed near them.”

Fahmi added, “Bird food should not be placed in the open and pet owners should wear gloves and masks while feeding the birds.”

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