Expatica news

EU opposed to swift end of poultry lock-up

23 November 2005

BRUSSELS — The EU is expected to block a rumoured lifting of the Belgian government’s order to keep poultry indoors in a continued effort to ward off the outbreak of bird flu.

It was reported earlier this week that poultry in risk areas where migratory birds congregate might be allowed to roam outside again in December.

The EU is expected to oppose the move, however, opting instead to allow the Belgian government to relax the regulations, only to make them stricter again in the spring.

Belgium ordered poultry indoors almost two months ago in response to recommendations from European Commission experts.

The advice was issued after outbreaks of the H5N1 bird flu strain dangerous to humans spread from South-East Asia to Russia, Turkey and then Romania and Croatia in the second half of this year.

Professional poultry farmers in Belgium were subsequently ordered to keep their birds indoors from the start of October, while hobby farmers were told to do the same at the start of November.

However, various media reports indicated on Monday that the order would soon be lifted until the spring migration season of birds in February.

That would have been possible because the autumn migration season has now past without an outbreak of bird flu on Belgium soil. However, any talk of lifting the order now appears premature.

A spokeswoman for the inter-ministerial influenza commission said thoughts are instead turning to a revision of risk areas rather than a suspension of preventative measures.

“Belgian measures will in any case follow European proposals. We don’t want to needlessly stretch out the present situation,” spokeswoman Inge Jooris said.

A spokesman for the Federal Food Agency, Pascal Houbaert, said a European-level meeting is scheduled on Wednesday, but refused to speculate on any decisions that might be taken.

[Copyright Expatica News 2005]

Subject: Belgian news