Via Arab News: Corona fears send camel prices crashing.
The camel market is one of the largest in the region with prices at times reaching astronomical figures that exceeded millions, with their own festivals that spread to the rest of the region, but the spread of MERS has deflated camel owners’ dreams.
The latest coronavirus crisis and consecutive statements of officials have confused camel owners who have started to wonder whether camels will be like birds when the bird flu spread all over the world. Owners wonder if camels will be destroyed and burned at the end of the day especially in light of news about the stopping of the Um Rqaiba festival.
Last week, owners held a meeting in Riyadh to follow up on emerging news in the corona and camel battle, and called on officials to present proof about the link between corona and camels before taking any action on this issue. The latest outbreak of corona in Riyadh, which has the largest number of camels in the Kingdom, led to a ban on selling camels as sacrifices during Eid Al-Adha, upon the decision of the Grand Mufti.
Owners in various parts of the Kingdom called for the continuation of their annual festival; however they are still waiting for an official decision that removes all doubts or that reveals a link between the animals and the disease.
Camel prices, especially those prepared for slaughter, have fallen by 50 percent according to camel markets.
Mohammad Al-Minai, an owner in Riyadh, stated that owners are ready to cooperate with authorities to fight the virus that threatens the community, but they haven’t received any request from the ministry to test their camels.
Owners also demand clear proof that links the virus with camels. He pointed out that through previous dealings with the Ministry of Agriculture he believes that preparations are weak and there is an inability to provide such studies.
Secretary General of the Saudi Society for Studying Camels Dr. Saeed Basmail said results announced by the Ministry Agriculture confirms that there is no accurate study that connects camels to corona.
King Saudi University announced the results of a study that was conducted recently, and Basmail said those who did the study were not specialized in the fields of either the virus or camels. He said the main researcher is a member of the faculty in the Zoology Department. Despite the fact the study was published in a scientific journal, he claims the study was not carried out with the appropriate methodology.
So on top of everything else, we've got MERS denialism complicating research into the disease.