Via Arab News: MERS battle: Camel imports face scrutiny. Excerpt:
JEDDAH: Saudi authorities suspect that the MERS virus may have arrived in camels from the Horn of Africa, and could ban such imports until it knows more, says Tariq Madani, who heads the scientific advisory board of the Health Ministry’s command and control center (CCC).
Any ban on the camel trade with the region would badly hurt the economy of Somalia, which is a major livestock exporter to Saudi Arabia.
Madani said scientists are currently testing camels at sea ports before authorities allow them in.
“We do have suspicions that the disease may have been imported through camel trade from the Horn of Africa, but we haven’t proved it yet,” Madani said.
He said the final decision on a ban on camel imports from the region lies with the agriculture ministry.
Madani said the ministry “hasn’t yet released an official ban for the importation of camels,” although colleagues there had told him such a move is “under consideration.”
He said: “We have always imported camels from the African Horn.... but we will stop that until we get more information on whether they are infected or not.”