DUBAI, United Arab Emirates, Oct. 6 -- The United Arab Emirates on Thursday lifted its ban on the import of Indian foodstuffs and resumed some flights to India, but declined to lift a ban on travelers from India except for United Arab Emirates nationals. Gulf Air regional manager Mohammed al-Shikaly said flights from Abu Dhabi to India for all passengers would resume late Thursday, but only incoming flights would be allowed to debark in Dubai. He said all passengers set to board Gulf Air flights would undergo medical examinations for symptoms of pneumonic plague, which has affected thousands of people in India, before boarding Gulf Air flights. Eighteen international airlines lifted bans on flights to India Thursday. The Health Ministry announced it had lifted a ban on air and sea traffic carrying Indian foodstuffs and other commodities to the United Arab Emirates. Port authorities have been directed to examine sailors for plague symptoms and to disinfect vessels while anchored outside the harbor, Health Minister Ahmed Saeed al-Badi said. If the authorities were satisfied that incoming vessels carried no plague, he said, they could be allowed to berth and unload. The government indicated it would be at least 12 days before any move to lift a ban on the entry of foreigners traveling from India. India could not be regarded as free of plague unless no new cases were diagnosed for a period at least twice the length of time needed to incubate the disease, United Arab Emirates Health Minister Ahmed Saeed al-Badi told the official Emirates News newspaper.
That would be about 12 days. New cases of plague in India were still being reported to Gulf countries Thursday by the World Health Organization, or WHO, senior UAE government officials said. A special Emirates flight that arrived late Wednesday from Bombay brought 272 United Arab Emirates citizens from India, the official Emirates news agency said. The plane traveled with a medical team, which examined the passengers for symptoms of the pneumonic plague during the flight to Dubai, the agency said. The passengers received antibiotics to be taken over six days to guard against the spread of plague to the nation and were ordered to report to hospitals in the country for further medical examinations. No cases of plague have been identified in Gulf countries, al-Badi said. He denied newspaper reports of three cases found in Kuwait. Health ministers of the six Gulf countries, who met in Bahrain this week, did not agree to lift or ease the ban. The decision would depend on advice received from the WHO, the officials said.