JEDDAH — The Ministry of Agriculture reported that 11 out of 20 camels in the farms of Al-Khumra governorate are inflicted with Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
Deputy Minister of Agriculture Hamad Bin Abdulaziz Al-Batshan said recently one of the butchers working at a farm in Al-Khumra, south of Jeddah, was diagnosed with coronavirus infection. “The ministry promptly decided to take necessary health and safety measures, in addition to enforcing regulations imposed by the Ministry of Health to avoid more cases of infections among people who closely work with camels,” said Al-Batshan.
He added that the Ministry of Agriculture hired a veterinary team to do a mass scanning and checkup of all of the camels in the farm.
“The farmers are prohibited from transferring the animals from the farm to the camel market. The diagnosis by the veterinarian team is alarming. More than 50 percent of the camels in the farm are infected. We need to take extra precautions to ensure that no more butchers get infected,” said Al-Batshan.
He said the Ministry of Health, Jeddah Municipality and Al-Khurma Police are all cooperating to contain the situation.
“It seems that we had an outbreak of the virus in the farm. We are trying to find the source of the outbreak and the cause. The camels will undergo several tests and only the camels that are free from the virus will be taken to the camel market to be butchered or sold,” said Al-Batshan.
He said the infected animals will be quarantined for up to a month and will not be released to be butchered until it is ascertained that they are completely free of the virus.
“We are currently raising awareness among people who work closely with camels and among consumers. The Ministry of Agriculture will not condone any potential risks of the virus and will exert maximum effort to contain the outbreak,” said Al-Batshan.