UAE lifts travel advisory to Kerala

Ban on imports of fruits and vegetables also likely to be lifted soon as Indian state contains deadly Nipah virus outbreak

Dubai: The UAE has lifted the travel advisory to the South Indian state of Kerala which has successfully contained a Nipah virus outbreak, Gulf News can reveal.

The Ministry of Health and Prevention (MOHAP) exclusively confirmed this to Gulf News on Monday.

“According to the latest report received from the World Health Organisation, the disease has been controlled and there are no travel barriers to Kerala,” the ministry said in an emailed statement.

“The Ministry of Health and Prevention does not prohibit the public from travelling to Kerala, but precautions should be taken by the travellers to any area suffering from endemic diseases in the world,” it added.

Seventeen people had succumbed to the brain-damaging disease in Kerala since the outbreak in May. Nearly 2,000 people were kept under strict observation and schools in some districts had been ordered to remain closed until June 12.

On June 10, Kerala announced that it had successfully contained the deadly virus though several people continue to be monitored. The state will remain vigilant until June 30 before declaring it Nipah-free, reports said.

It was on May 24 that the MOHAP asked travellers from the UAE to avoid unnecessary travels to Kerala until the Nipah virus outbreak could be brought under control.

On May 30, the ministry said it had also ordered airport authorities to detect and notify passengers showing symptoms of Nipah.

However, sources said passengers from Kerala were not stopped for screening.

Import ban

Sources said the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), which announced a ban on imports of fruits and vegetables from Kerala on May 29, is expected to lift the ban soon.

The ministry had banned the imports of fruits and vegetables as the natural host of the virus is a fruit bat of the Pteropodidae family, according to the WHO.

In a statement to Gulf News, Majd Mohammad Al Herbawi, director of Food Safety Department at MOCCAE, said: “Following the UAE’s ban on fresh fruit and vegetables from the Indian state of Kerala that was imposed on learning of the Nipah virus outbreak, we are closely monitoring and following up on developments with Indian authorities concerned. Should the latest data analysis we receive from India indicate that there is no reason for this ban, it will be lifted with immediate effect.”


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