'Don't panic,' French PM says over bird flu threat

14th October 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 14 (AFP) - French prime minister Dominique de Villepin insisted Friday there was no need to panic over the bird flu threat, amid fears that a deadly strain of the virus has crossed into Europe.

PARIS, Oct 14 (AFP) - French prime minister Dominique de Villepin insisted Friday there was no need to panic over the bird flu threat, amid fears that a deadly strain of the virus has crossed into Europe.

De Villepin said there were measures already in place in France and across Europe to tackle any possible pandemic of the H5N1 virus.

"It's something we have to take seriously," he told Europe 1 radio, shortly before a meeting of key cabinet ministers in his office on bird flu.

"We're at the first stage of an alert, at the European level we have banned the import of fowl ... taken measures to protect (poultry) stocks, increased surveillance of migratory birds," said de Villepin.

He said there was no question "at this stage of shutting in poultry" or of "giving way to panic."

Ankara and the European Commission confirmed Thursday that the H5N1 virus, which has so far killed 60 people in Southeast Asia since 2003, had been found in Turkey.

EU officials said they were assuming a suspected outbreak in Romania would also be confirmed when test results come through Saturday.

Health officials fear that the strain may mutate into a transmissible human form which could, if unchecked, cause a global pandemic.

De Villepin said that there was a "prevention plan" ready for France and "an organisation that goes with it and which, if the threat is upgraded, as it is for natural disasters, will trigger intervention (measures)."

He said Europe as a whole was also fully mobilised.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

 

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