As of today, any EU member state detecting bird flu cases will be authorised to trigger an emergency programme without having to get authorisation from Brussels. It follows this weekend’s confirmations by Greece, Italy and Bulgaria that they had found swans with the deadly H5N1 strain.
Today Italy’s Health Minister Francesco Storace is visiting the three southern regions affected- Puglia, Calabria, and Sicily- to calm the public’s fears. Authorities have been urging people not to touch dead birds.
Meanwhile checks are being made on a swan found dead in the central Abruzzo region. The discoveries in Italy and Greece mean the deadly strain of bird flu is now present in the European Union, while another EU member, Slovenia, may have found its first case.
In Greece, government officials have been visiting northern areas to inform people about preventive measures, and the risks of handling dead birds. Slovenia, which has found the H5 strain in a swan, is waiting for the results of lab tests to see if it was the variety that has killed at least 88 people in Asia and the Middle East.