Friday, October 14, 2005

Possible Pandemic Ahead

Suspicions have been confirmed. The bird flu virus found in Turkey is the H5N1 strain, which has killed some 60 people in Asia since late 2003, announced the EU Commissioner for health and consumer protection Markos Kyprianou at noon.

Mr Kyprianou urged the European countries to be on alert for possible bird flu pandemic and to stockpile antivirals. With regard to Romania, he argued that the European Commission is not yet certain whether the cases reported were due to the pathogenic strain of the virus, however, the Commission is working on the premise that this is the case until the final results from the lab tests come out.

Imports of live birds and poultry products from Turkey have already been banned, while a similar embargo is to be imposed on Romania. However, the first results from showed that the samples were tested negative to the virus. InRomania Greece, alarm sounded on Thursday morning at the Piraeus port, when four migratory birds, one dead, were located on a Portuguese registered ship, coming from Egypt. The alarm proved false later, since according to the lab tests the birds had died of exhaustion.

In the meantime, after meeting with the Prime Minister and Minister of Rural Development Evangelos Basiakos at Maximos Mansion on Thursday, Health Minister Nikitas Kaklamanis announced the government is willing to ask for a meeting held in late November between the Balkan and Black Sea countries, aiming at drawing up a joint plan to combat the avian influenza virus.

(Sources: NET Radio 105.8, French Press Agency,