90% of Gulf camels ‘MERS-infected’

Updated 26 February 2015

90% of Gulf camels ‘MERS-infected’

About 90 percent of camels in the Gulf region are carriers of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV), which requires the urgent need for a vaccine, according to a leading Health Ministry official.
In addition, the virus can be transmitted over a 1-meter distance, Abdullah Asiri, undersecretary for preventative health at the ministry, was quoted as saying in a local publication on Tuesday.
Asiri said that 50 percent of camels in Al-Ahsa region carry the virus. A person who comes into contact with infected camels can transmit the virus to family members without showing symptoms of the disease, he said.
He said mass extermination of these camels was not an acceptable solution, so research should be accelerated to develop a vaccine.
Younger camels are most able to transmit the disease to humans. Most viruses come from animals, mutate on their own, and are then transmitted to humans, he said.
He said the ministry’s directive to health professionals is that they should consider patients to have MERS if they have respiratory symptoms consistent with being infected with the virus. This is until laboratory results prove otherwise.
Tests normally take between 6 and 8 hours, during which a patient with a respiratory infection must be isolated within the hospital in a sterile environment and with no access to visitors.
The rapid transmission of the disease over the past year was mainly due to contact with infected patients within health facilities, especially in emergency departments, Asiri said.
Patients have been advised not to visit health facilities for minor ailments, or cases of the ordinary flu, but should only seek treatment if they suspect being infected by MERS after contact with animals.
Members of the public should visit primary health care centers because they are fully equipped to handle such cases. He urged people to avoid contact with animals especially camels. If they must make contact, then they should wear masks and gloves, and refrain from rubbing their eyes or noses after touching them.


This Lebanese food shop is providing meals for Beirut blast victims

Updated 12 August 2020

This Lebanese food shop is providing meals for Beirut blast victims

DUBAI: On the night of the Beirut port blasts, which killed 154 civilians and injured thousands on August 4, Lebanese food shop owner Nabil Khoury and his brother decided to launch one of the very first initiatives for distributing packaged meals to those impacted by the catastrophe. Within a week, more than 3,000 meals have been cooked in the kitchen of Khoury’s vegetarian delicatessen, “Dry & Raw.”

In an Instagram post, the company shared: “We are all one in this. This is the least we can do for you, for us and for our country.”

With the help of staff and numerous young volunteers, along with Khoury’s loyal clients (who generously donated meat and poultry), a variety of hot meals incorporating carbohydrates and proteins, sandwiches and salads have been distributed to many, including selfless medical doctors, volunteers and families in need.

“With the donations, I cannot tell you how much people love to help each other — it’s overwhelming,” Khoury, 45, told Arab News.

He collaborated with the Lebanese Red Cross, the Lebanese Food Bank and local NGO Hot Pot Meal to deliver food to different parts of Beirut, such as Gemmayze, Mar Mikhael and Karantina, which were all severely damaged by the explosions.

“No picture or video could describe the damage that has occurred,” he explained, adding how the country was already suffering from an economic meltdown and the coronavirus pandemic. “In the early hours, people were busy helping each other, takingothers to hospitals, and burying the dead. But now, they are very angry at the whole system. Our government has resigned, but this is not the solution — the whole corrupt system has to step down. This explosion broke the last bone in our back.”

Having previously worked for NGOs, Khoury opened “Dry & Raw” in February 2020; a few months after the October uprising that witnessed nationwide anti-government protests.

Encouraging local food production, Khoury claims the conceptual shop is the “first of its kind” in Lebanon, offering organic, vegan, gluten-free and vegetarian foods, which have been produced in-house.

In addition, select produce is grown at the shop’s own farm.

Khoury recalled: “People criticized the fact that we opened the shop in the midst of an economic crisis, but we said: ‘This is the future and we should really start local production now’.”