EU veterinary experts were expected to endorse new measures yesterday aimed at preventing the deadly bird-flu virus strain H5N1 from spreading westward into the EU.
The European Commission will send EU veterinary and laboratory experts to Bulgaria and Turkey, after both requested help on Thursday, EU spokesman Philip Tod said.
Turkey and Romania this week both announced it had discovered bird flu in the country, though only Turkey confirmed H5N1.
Bulgaria, which neighbors Romania and Turkey, has increased customs checks, banned wild-bird hunting and boosted monitoring of wild migratory birds to prevent an outbreak there.
"In the case of Bulgaria, we will be sending some laboratory and veterinary experts, who will likely leave this weekend," Tod said. "For Turkey, the experts we will send are likely to be specialists in epidemiology."
The veterinary experts were drawn from across the 25-nation bloc, Turkey and Romania.
It was still unclear if the samples taken from Romanian birds would prove to be H5N1, highly contagious among birds but difficult for humans to contract. So far, tests in Romania identified only the H5 subtype, and further tests in Britain would not give results until today, Tod said.
"We are working on the assumption that it is also the H5N1 virus, and all measures have now been adopted with that in mind," Tod said. "Animal restrictions on Romania are now in force."
EU foreign ministers planned emergency talks for Tuesday in Luxembourg to assess how to further coordinate measures within the EU and with other international organizations and countries.
"We want to have international coordination," Tod said, adding that the EU was pushing for a donors conference for Southeast Asian nations to help fight the spread of the virus there.
Despite the rarity of human infection with bird flu, 117 people in Asia have contracted H5N1 in the last two years, and about 60 people have died, most of them poultry farmers infected directly by birds.
Among the precautionary measures being considered for the EU were tighter monitoring and controls on wild migratory birds, bringing domestic birds indoors and, in some cases, vaccinations among flocks.
The European Commission is also considering travel warnings and a ban on hunting in risk areas. Several European countries have banned bird hunting already.
"Each member state will define which areas are at risk and apply the necessary measures to separate wild birds from poultry," Tod said.
EU Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou has proposed to set aside 1 billion euros (US$1.2 billion) to help make and distribute anti-viral drugs and vaccines in case of a pandemic.
SCHEDULE: The delegation is due to meet with President Tsai Ing-wen this morning and witness the signing of an MOU on bilateral health cooperation in the afternoon US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar yesterday arrived in Taipei aboard a US government plane at the head of a delegation that is the highest-level visit by a US official since Washington switched diplomatic recognition to China in 1979. Azar’s flight landed at Taipei International Airport (Songshan airport) at 4:48pm, nearly one hour earlier than scheduled, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said. The apron where it landed is reserved for military aircraft, the Songshan Air Force Base Command said. The members of Azar’s delegation included HHS Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response Robert Kadlec, HHS Chief of Staff Brian
ALEX AZAR: The first visit by a head of the Department of Health and Human Services would strictly observe the CECC’s special regulations, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said US Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS) Alex Azar is to lead a delegation to Taiwan — the highest-level visit by a US Cabinet official since the two sides cut formal relations in 1979. The plan was announced yesterday morning by the US Department of Health and Human Services and confirmed by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA). Beijing has expressed its concerns to Washington, Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesman Wang Wenbin (汪文斌) said later yesterday. Taiwan and the US only issued statements saying that the visit would happen “in the coming days.” MOFA said that due to security concerns, it would
‘CROSS-STRAIT CONSIDERATIONS’: Groups said that the Ministry of Education’s policies excluded Chinese and students should not be blocked over political issues The Taiwan International Student Movement yesterday said it would protest today outside the Ministry of Education in Taipei against a policy that excludes some Chinese students from returning to Taiwan amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Since June 17, the ministry has allowed foreign students from 19 “low risk” and “medium-low risk” countries and regions to enter Taiwan. On July 22, it announced that it was relaxing restrictions to include students from all countries and regions who are graduating this semester and on Wednesday it further expanded entry to students enrolled in degree programs. A letter sent by the ministry on Wednesday to universities did
The military last week sent “no small number” of Marine Corps officers to the Pratas Islands (Dongsha Island, 東沙群島) following reports of a Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) drill targeting the islands scheduled for this month. In an interview with Hong Kong’s Bauhinia Magazine published on Saturday last week, PLA National Defense University professor Li Daguang (李大光) confirmed that the Chinese army was planning to stage a simulated invasion of the Pratas Islands in the South China Sea this month. The islands comprise three atolls, with Pratas Island, at 1.74km2, being the largest. They lie southwest of Taiwan proper in the South