Outbreak of Nipah virus in Kerala state tied to decision taken by MoCI
KUWAIT CITY, June 5: Following the decision taken by Ministry of Commerce and Industry (MoCI) to ban the import of fruits and vegetables from India due to the outbreak of Nipah virus, Pakistan hopes that the import of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan to Kuwait will double, reports geo.tv.com quoting Vice- President of Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry (FPCCI).
He highlighted the warning issued by Kuwait’s Food Safety Department concerning the risk posed by Nipah virus to the lives of human beings and animals. Nipah virus has so far killed 13 people in Kerala, India, and infections are allegedly spreading throughout Kerala and other states in South India.
However, there are no confirmed cases of the virus outside the state of Kerala. Among the 116 suspected cases sent for testing recently by Kerala, 13 died, 15 have been confirmed with the deadly disease and two are undergoing treatment. According to a committee from Public Authority for Food and Nutrition in Kuwait, outbreak of the rare brain-damaging Nipah virus in Kerala was the reason why Ministry of Commerce and Industry took such a decision. In this regard, Undersecretary of Ministry of Health Dr Mustafa Redha said, “The ministry will take immediate precautionary measures to prevent the outbreak of Nipah virus in the country”.
World Health Organization (WHO) stated that there is no vaccine for the virus which spreads through body fluids and can cause inflammation of the brain, or encephalitis. The United Arab Emirates had earlier imposed a ban on import of fruits and vegetables from Kerala due to the same reason, suspecting that fruit bats are the source of virus. Since bats prefer fruits such as mangoes, dates and bananas, fresh produce especially these fruits from India have been banned in the UAE.
Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in the UAE also notified other local authorities including the Abu Dhabi Food Control Authority (ADFCA) and the municipalities of its emirates to prevent the entry of any fresh produce from Kerala. Health officials in India have not yet been able to track the source of the outbreak. They launched a new set of tests on fruit bats in Perambra, which is the suspected epicenter of the infection. Considering this ban on fresh produce from India to these Arabian Gulf countries, Pakistan is now hoping that exports of fruits and vegetables from Pakistan would consequently double in volume.
(Source – geo.tv.com)