One million Tamiflu tablets by March

ABU DHABI — One million Tamiflu tablets — the most prescribed treatment that attacks influenza virus and stops it from spreading in the body — will be available in the UAE by March 2006, a top official said yesterday. The quantity available now is 10,000 tablets only, said Majid Al Mansouri, Secretary-General of the UAE Environment Agency yesterday.

By Atef Hanafi

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Published: Tue 13 Dec 2005, 9:34 AM

Last updated: Thu 2 Apr 2015, 7:21 PM

Speaking to reporters, Al Mansouri said that any live birds entering the UAE should have proper documents in accordance with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). He said the Al Ghuwaifat quarantine was opened yesterday, and the airport’s quarantine would be opened after two weeks in accordance with the plan set by the Higher Committee to combat bird flu. There will also be a quarantine in Al Ain to be opened two weeks later.

He said that the UAE had taken very strict measures to protect the country against the threat of bird flu. Al Mansouri said that according to an agreement signed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, “we will be able to seize birds in the veterinary quarantines for four days to make blood tests, and after 21 days, these birds will be subjected to other blood tests to be sure that they are completely free of any infections.” He said the agency had taken about 200 random blood samples from birds of Al Wathba Wetland Reserve and another 200 samples from different parts of Abu Dhabi and there were absolutely free of any infections.

Al Mansouri emphasised that the Environment Agency now has an updated database and modern equipment as well as trained staff “which enables us to deal quickly with any emergency.” He added that the Higher Committee for Combating Bird Flu had submitted a request to the cabinet seeking Dh5.5 million and the cabinet yesterday approved a memorandum to meet the requirements of the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries to develop quarantines costing Dh5 million. Al Mansouri added that the Environment Agency had completed the construction of some quarantines, besides supplying a portable laboratory to be able to move at places, which have swarms of birds.

“We, at the Environment Agency, are very concerned about the health of people. Bird shops were ordered to be shut down because they violated the health regulations and this step was taken earlier before bird flu surfaced,” he said. Al Mansouri said currently the Environment Agency was preparing statistics about bird flu and the places, which it hit around the world and the number of infections and deaths.

He asserted that the UAE was completely free of any kind of infection by the virus. However, he expressed fears as the UAE is an open country and receives every day an enormous number of visitors, some of them may come from countries in which the disease has spread. Al Mansouri explained that the Falcons’ Hospital was fully equipped to deal with any eventuality.

A conference and workshop on bird flu will be held on Saturday in Dubai and 18 experts will participate.

Meanwhile, monitoring points in Sharjah have covered about 49 areas and taken 1,000 blood samples. The results were negative. Monitoring point activities were extended to cover Khorfakkan and Kalba as well as Dibaa Al Hasn, where about 2,000 birds gathered in about 679 spots. Results from the samples were negative.

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