DOHA: Qatar has banned import of all sorts of food and meat products from Ebola-hit West African countries, according to a senior health expert.
The decision, announced after a high-level meeting of health officials on Tuesday, is part of precautionary measure to protect Qatar from any possible threat from the deadly virus. It is an addition to the ban on bringing in animals from Ebola-affected countries, including Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
Dr Sheikha Al Ziara, Head, Environmental Health Section, Supreme Council of Health (SCH), said steps have been taken to ban all sorts of food products and meat items from Ebola-affected countries.
She was speaking at a meeting to discuss measures to prevent Ebola cases in the country.
However, a leading retail outlet told this newspaper yesterday that they do not import any type of meat or food items from Guinea, Liberia, Sierra Leone and Nigeria.
The SCH meeting was attended by members of the international heath regulation committee and the committee working on a national plan to prepare for an early response to the Ebola threat.
Experts suggested that all passengers from Ebola-affected countries should be screened before their departure from their countries to prevent any suspected case entering into Qatar.
It was disclosed at the meeting that Qatar University will set up a laboratory to test samples for infectious deceases. Dr Azma Al Thani, Head of Health Science Faculty at Qatar University, said: “Qatar University is planning to start a laboratory to test serious infectious diseases. It will test samples as a safety step, to prevent such diseases spreading.”
However, Ebola virus samples are tested only in laboratories approved by the World Health Organisation.
Dr Mohamed bin Hamad Al Thani, Director of Public Health, Supreme Council of Health, reconfirmed that there was no Ebola case in Qatar. “We have taken all possible precautions to prevent the disease. If any suspected case is found, our healthcare professionals are prepared to handle the situation,” he said.
Symptoms for Ebola are sudden onset of fever, intense weakness, muscle pain, headache and sore throat. This is followed by vomiting, diarrhoea, rash, impaired kidney and liver function, and in some cases, both internal and external bleeding. Laboratory findings include low white blood cell and platelet counts and elevated liver enzymes.
The virus is passed to humans through close contact with the blood or bodily fluids of infected animals.
Anyone found with suspected Ebola Virus infection should immediately call the hotline numbers 66740948 and 66740751, fax to 44070812 or send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org