State on alert for threat of bird flu

Greece faces no imminent threat from bird flu but state services remain on standby – especially at border entry points – following reports of several people in Turkey contracting the lethal strain of the virus, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday. Customs officials and guards on the Turkish border have been issued with new instructions for inspections and all vehicles arriving from Turkey are being disinfected, Kaklamanis told Parliament. «We are working with the Foreign Ministry to ensure that, if necessary, supplies of the anti-viral drug Tamiflu will be sent to staff at our embassy and three consulates in Turkey,» he added. Meanwhile, the Agricultural Development and Food Ministry was waiting for word from the European Commission’s veterinary committee, which convened yesterday to assess the situation in Turkey. Just two months ago, the ministry issued a decision according to which farm birds should be kept in closed areas in certain parts of the country – near the border, next to wetlands and along migratory routes. The same decision bans the sale of birds at street markets in these regions. Meanwhile the Cypriot Agriculture Ministry banned wild duck hunting as a precaution. Cyprus’s government spokesman, Kypros Chrysostomidis, said he was worried about bird flu spreading to the north of the island from the nearby Turkish mainland.

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