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Russia to ban British poultry imports

Russia will ban British poultry imports from Tuesday to prevent the spread of bird flu, the country’s animal and plant health watchdog said on Monday.

Rosselkhoznadzor said in a statement the ban would apply to live birds, hatching eggs, poultry meat and all poultry products not subjected to thermal treatment, as well as poultry feed and equipment for keeping and slaughtering birds. Britain’s continental neighbours were on high alert on Monday as the UK authorities continued to cull tens of thousands of turkeys in an effort to contain Europe’s largest outbreak of H5N1 bird flu on a commercial poultry farm. The Dutch agriculture ministry said on Monday it had ordered farmers to keep commercial poultry indoors to prevent a possible spread of avian flu „because the outbreak is quite close to the Netherlands”. France called for vigilance and said it was ready to boost measures aimed at halting the spread of the disease. A biosecurity zone has been set up around the Bernard Matthews farm in Suffolk, as a precaution against the deadly virus spreading. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs said on Sunday night that the gassing operation, which has already killed 51,000 of the 159,000 turkeys on the farm, would continue on Monday. Their carcasses are being transported in „sealed, leak-proof lorries” for high-temperature rendering at a plant in Staffordshire. Three security zones have been set up around the farm in Holton, which is 27km south-west of Lowestoft port on the east coast. Stringent precautions are in force in the 3km inner „protection zone” and 10km outer “surveillance zone”. In addition a much wider „restricted zone” covers 2,090 sq km; here poultry have to be isolated from wild birds and all movements must be licensed.

The Suffolk H5N1 outbreak, the first to affect poultry in the country, follows a similar infection among geese in Hungary two weeks ago. Before that, Europe had had no reported cases of avian flu since last August. In Asia and Africa too there is an upsurge of international concern about the spread of the disease, after a few months in which bird flu had slipped out of the news media in most parts of the world. On Saturday the WHO confirmed Nigeria’s first human death from bird flu – a 22-year-old woman. In Japan, the National Institute of Animal Health said the country’s latest bird flu outbreak, its fourth this year, was caused by the H5N1 virus. Japanese Authorities have already ordered the killing of 93,000 chickens on a farm in Miyazaki prefecture on the southern island of Kyushu. But the worst affected country remains Indonesia, where at least five people have died already this year, all but one in and around Jakarta. The government last month ordered the slaughter of the tens of millions of unlicensed backyard birds in the capital and the two surrounding provinces. David Nabarro, the United Nations’s bird flu coordinator, on Sunday urged

Indonesia to declare a national emergency to fight H5N1 virus, which is endemic in poultry across much of the country. This „focuses the minds of everybody into understanding what’s going on”, he told the Financial Times in an interview during a visit to Jakarta. Dr Nabarro was heartened by the new „real momentum to scale up the effort to deal with bird flu” in Indonesia. But he warned ministers against repeating recent statements that some previously infected areas were now bird flu-free. Brussels said on Sunday that the the UK had followed the correct procedures in dealing with the outbreak and had informed it in good time. The European Commission will on Monday formally endorse the security cordon established by the UK. Then on Tuesday government vets from all 27 member states will discuss how to deal with the return of bird flu. An EU spokeswoman said she did not expect any internal or external pressure for a trade ban. „Last year there were 14 outbreaks in different member states and no calls for import bans. Trading partners have confidence in our measures,” she said. (