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EU says holding public health emergency exercise

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EU says holding public health emergency exercise


European Union states tested communications procedures in case of a public health emergency on Wednesday amid growing fears of a flu pandemic sparked by the spread of bird flu.

Separately, the European Commission has said risks of a human influenza pandemic are growing and is advising member states to stockpile anti-viral drugs. Greece will have to wait until next week to find out if the bird flu found in a turkey on an Aegean Sea island is the HN51 strain that is potentially fatal to humans. Today the country’s health minister Nikitas Kaklamanlis went to the island of Oinouses near the Turkish coast, and had a chicken lunch. The message was clear: the outbreak among poultry does not mean there is a significant risk of a pandemic among humans. But Athens has banned the export of live birds and poultry products from islands neighbouring Oinouses. That could hit a sector that represents at least six per cent of Greek agricultural produce. Romania and Turkey are fighting an outbreak of H5N1, the strain which has killed over 60 people in southeast Asia since 2003. Western Europe is already taking precautionary measures. Germany’s southern state of Bavaria has banned all poultry from being kept outdoors, to avoid contact with migrating birds believed to be spreading the disease. People arriving in Britain from Turkey and Romania are now subject to extra checks, the idea being to stop poultry products coming in.
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