Khalid Al-Faheed, secretary-general of the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ministry is tightening quarantine measures and monitoring camels imported from the Horn of Africa to ensure the safety of citizens and residents from MERS-CoV.
The secretary-general did not respond directly to claims that the ministry is planning to ban the import of the animal from the northeast African peninsula. He, however, stressed that the ministry is taking a number of precautionary steps to monitor imported camels, including testing the animals, applying disinfection and sterilization procedures.
Dr. Tareq Madani, medical adviser for the Health Ministry, explained that Saudi Arabia suspects that corona virus might have originated in the Kingdom from camels imported from the Horn of Africa, noting that specialists are testing camels in ports prior to their entry into the Kingdom.
“The final ruling on the ban of imported camels from the Horn of Africa is an issue to be decided by the Ministry of Agriculture. As of yet, the ministry has not issued a prohibition, but officials said the step is under consideration,” he added.
Al-Faheed explained that the ministry sends technical teams to livestock exporting countries on a regular basis to ensure international veterinary health conditions are met. He added that the ministry keeps a vigilant eye on the status of contagious diseases in accordance with international standards.
The official said that the camels imported from the Horn of Africa are placed in quarantine for the 30 days in the exporting country, during which a number of tests and procedures are taken. After the camels are tested and subjected to veterinary quarantine measures, the farm or animal owners issue a certificate of origin and veterinary health certificate, which is sent with the shipment. Upon reaching the Kingdom, the camels are tested once again.