France girds up against bird flu

30th August 2005, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Aug 30 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced new measures to combat the threat of bird flu, including new health checks at major airports.

PARIS, Aug 30 (AFP) - French Prime Minister Dominique de Villepin announced new measures to combat the threat of bird flu, including new health checks at major airports.

"Stocks of anti-viral medicines, vaccines and means to protect individuals will be brought to the level required to ensure the health of all French people in case of a pandemic," de Villepin's office said in a statement.

It said 200 million protection masks would be stockpiled by the year 2006.

"Health checks will be stepped up at major airports handling international flights," said the statement, which was issued following a cabinet meeting chaired by de Villepin to discuss the issue.

Bird flu has killed 61 people across Asia since late 2003 and ravaged poultry stocks in the region as well as in parts of Russia, Kazakhstan and further west, with a number of seagulls with the disease having been detected in Finland.

Health experts have warned that the bird flu virus could spark a global pandemic if it develops the ability to spread quickly among humans.

President Jacques Chirac on Monday called for a strong international response to the threat, warning it could develop into a "crisis of great magnitude".

Copyight AFP

Subject: French news, bird flu, de Villepin, vaccine, public health

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