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Bird flu could prompt further import bans

09 April 2007

UAE - The trade minister of Kuwait is expected to ban poultry imports from Saudi Arabia, following growing fears in the GCC over the persistence of the bird flu virus among the region's poultry.

The KSA was hit with bird flu in March, causing demand for poultry to fall by 30% in some provinces.

Kuwait itself also experienced new cases of the virus in late March. Three new outbreaks of the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus brought the number of infected birds in the country this year to 57.

In Qatar, the price of fresh chicken has risen slightly as a ban on poultry imports from the KSA gradually takes effect, according to The Peninsula. The cost of frozen chicken has so far remained unchanged although retailers have warned a lift could occur within weeks if the ban remains in place.

However Qatar said on Friday it has no plans to close down live chicken outlets as a precautionary measure against a possible outbreak.

"No cases have been detected, so there is no reason for panic and order the closure of shops selling live chicken and their meat," an official from the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Agriculture (MMAA) said.

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