The Supreme Council of Health says it will “not hesitate in banning all vegetables from all European countries if necessary”
Qatar has banned the import of cucumbers, tomatoes and lettuce from Spain and Germany amid an E. coli outbreak that has killed 19 people in 12 countries.
The Supreme Council of Health (SCH) said it had decided to impose a temporary ban on importing fresh cucumber, tomato and lettuce from Spain and Germany due to the spread of E. coli.
The council will “not hesitate in banning all vegetables from all European countries if necessary”, an official said.
All but one of the fatalities since the outbreak of enterohaemorrhagic E. coli (EHEC) poisoning began last month have been in Germany. A patient who died in Sweden had recently returned from Germany.
Regional German health authorities have reported more than 2,000 cases of people falling ill with EHEC poisoning, with symptoms including stomach cramps, diarrhoea, fever and vomiting.
An official source at the SCH said the decision to ban the imports was taken on the recommendations of the Joint Human Food Control Committee at its emergency meeting on June 2.
A health certificate must attest that fresh vegetable and fruit shipments coming from other European countries are free from EHEC.
The SCH called upon all food importers to abide by the ban. It also urged residents to thoroughly wash all vegetables and fruits before consuming them.
As a precautionary measure, the official source said the SCH had reminded doctors and health workers of Hamad Medical Corporation and the Primary Health Care to closely investigate any patient who came suffering from diarrhoea with blood in stool accompanied by stomach colic, especially those who had recently come to Qatar from the European countries which had reported EHEC cases.
The Department of Public Health at the SCH advised passengers who are travelling to the infected countries to avoid having fresh and raw vegetables until things settled down. They are also advised to repeatedly wash their hands, especially before preparing and eating their food, and after using the bathroom. Children’s caretakers are particularly advised to observe these precautions.
The SCH said it would, in co-operation with the Joint Human Food Control Committee, “monitor the situation closely on the basis of the regular reports issued by competent international organisations”. QNA, AFP