Anxiety continues to grow in Turkey over bird flu. Hundreds of Turks have been rushing to hospitals for tests, despite government assurances that there is no need to panic. News came on Tuesday of another human case of the potentially deadly disease in the central province of Sivas.
At least 15 people are now infected, mostly children. The number of provinces where birds have the virus has also risen to 19. Parts of Istanbul remain sealed off while authorities cull infected poultry. The outbreak has cast a shadow over celebrations of the Muslim festival of Eid.Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan has sought to calm public fears over the virus. Speaking yesterday, he urged Turks not to panic. None of the current human cases are life-threatening and the situation is under control, he said. However those assurances have barely eased the sense of crisis, touched off last week in eastern Turkey, where three children from the same family died – two of them confirmed victims of the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu. Their six-year-old brother has been released from hospital, after getting the all clear from doctors. Officials from the World Health Organisation have said the outbreak can be brought under control. However that’s cold comfort for those still mourning the young victims of the virus.