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Avian flu outbreak in Turkey requires greater urgency in Ireland and rest of EU - Mary Lou McDonald

13 October, 2005

Sinn Féin MEP for Dublin Mary Lou McDonald has today called for "an all Ireland strategy to combat the most recent outbreak of the Avian Flu virus in Turkey".

Ms McDonald made her comments after the European Commission confirmed that the deadly strain H5N1, which has killed more than 60 people in Asia since 2003 was found in Turkish poultry. EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou confirmed that tests had revealed the strain earlier today.

Speaking from Brussels Ms McDonald said:

"Avian Flu virus has spread from South East Asia, into Russia and has now been located in Turkey, on the south eastern fringes of Europe. Whilst not wishing to cause panic, it is clear that health officials are bracing themselves for the possibility of a global pandemic.

"I welcome the fact that the European authorities have moved to ban all bird and poultry products from Romania and the import of live birds and feathers from Turkey. Restrictions should be kept in place for as long as is necessary.

"Given the seriousness of the situation the authorities north and south must act urgently and must act together. The British authorities also need to inform citizens in the Six Counties as to how many vaccines have been ordered for local people.

"In a question asked in the Dail in September by my colleague Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, Minister Mary Harney's office responded that 'arrangements have already been made to purchase 1 million treatment packs of antivirals (Tamiflu). This quantity is sufficient to treat 25% of the population'. Whilst 600,000 packs are due to be delivered before the end of the year, the other 400,000 will not arrive before the New Year. Ireland must be fully prepared to combat any potential viral strain of avian flu. If that means ordering extra stocks of antivirals then so be it." ENDS

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