Greece doing ‘all it can’ to keep bird flu at bay

Greece has done «everything humanly possible» to avert contamination from bird flu, whose fatal strain has killed two people in neighboring Turkey, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis said yesterday after talks with Prime Minister Costas Karamanlis and other ministers. «The spread of the virus in Turkey is not good… We must not panic and we must not be complacent… We have implemented measures in full… (but) we cannot set up borders in the sky,» Kaklamanis said. Posters instructing travelers about the dangers of bird flu have been set up at entry points, including border crossings and Athens International Airport, Kaklamanis said. Also, leaflets with advice on how to ward off the virus are being given to travelers at airports and drivers at the borders, Interior Minister Prokopis Pavlopoulos said. Meanwhile hundreds of staff have been sent to border areas and islands near Turkey to speed up checks on bird samples, Agricultural Development and Food Minister Evangelos Bassiakos said. Also, a strict ban is being enforced on imports of poultry, eggs and feathers from countries affected by bird flu. The National Pharmaceutical Organization (EOF) has sent 552 boxes of the antiviral drug Tamiflu to staff at the Greek Embassy and consulates in Turkey, EOF President Dimitris Vayionas said. EOF has another 22,000 boxes of Tamiflu in storage, he said, stressing that the medicine is not a preventative therapy but relieves the symptoms of sufferers. EOF is also awaiting delivery of 200,000 boxes of Relenza, a similar antiviral drug, he said.

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