NEWS

Poultry exports banned

The government yesterday slapped a ban on all poultry exports from several eastern Aegean islands after bird flu was detected in the region on Monday amid signs of panic from residents who have been reporting numerous sightings of dead birds across the country. Agricultural Development Minister Evangelos Bassiakos said on Monday that the country’s first case of bird flu was detected in a turkey on the islet of Oinouses, close to the Turkish coast. More tests are needed, however, to determine whether it is the strain that can be harmful to humans and results will not be ready for another seven days. Bassiakos yesterday ordered an export ban on all poultry products from the area surrounding the islet, which is close to Chios, in agreement with the European Union (EU). «As a purely precautionary measure, we have… imposed an export ban on living poultry, meat and other poultry products from the region of Chios,» Bassiakos said. A number of countries have already been adding local poultry to their black list. The United Arab Emirates said that it had banned all imports of birds from Greece, while Ukraine said that it would do the same. Concerns from residents about the likelihood of a pandemic hitting the country have resulted in prefecture authorities being flooded with calls from people who have come across dead birds, a sight that is not uncommon on the streets of Athens. Passers-by in Ambelokipi, central Athens, notified officials yesterday after finding 10 dead pigeons while authorities were also called in to investigate a dead bird at a high school in central Athens. More calls about dead birds were made on the islands of Rhodes and Kalymnos and the northern Greek areas of Pella and Volos. Tests for bird flu are being conducted on all animals found but no more cases were reported yesterday. Meanwhile, supplies of anti-viral medicines continued to be snapped up yesterday. Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday that Greece has ordered 280,000 extra common flu vaccines to meet demand but stressed that the vaccines should be used only by those who need them most.