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Deadly influenza virus detected in occupied Cyprus
2006-01-30 11:44:29

Nicosia, Jan 30 (CNA) – The high pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 has been confirmed in a sample taken from Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas, the European Commission has said.

In a press release on Sunday, the Commission said it was sending two experts from the Technical Assistance and Information Exchange Unit to the area not under the effective control of the government of Cyprus, to investigate the epidemiology of the disease on the ground.

The experts have arrived and started meetings here.

The Commission assured that “the EU would be ready to assist with surveillance if needed,” adding that “in accordance with a European Commission decision, the Cypriot authorities have taken all necessary measures including placing poultry indoors”.

The press release said “the European Commission and the Turkish Authorities have been informed by the Community Reference Laboratory for Avian Influenza at Weybridge of the high pathogenic avian influenza virus H5N1 in a sample taken form the area not under the effective control of the government of Cyprus,” noting that “no live animals or animal products, including all poultry products and feathers, can be transferred across the Green Line or to the European Union.”

Cyprus Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Efthymios Efthymiou confirmed during a press conference the detection of the virus in a sample taken at the occupied village of Makrasika.

This was also confirmed by the so-called prime minister of the self-styled Turkish Cypriot regime Ferdi Sabit Soyer.

Efthymiou called on people not to panic, noting that all necessary measures to protect the population are taken.

The minister said that check-points to and from the northern part of the island will not close and that the authorities of the Republic have called on the British Bases, close to the occupied areas, authorities to take relevant measures.

He also said that questions are raised by the delay in the dispatch of the sample to Turkey and from Turkey to the EU labs.

Soyer said that they took the necessary measures in Makrasika and within an area of 10 km around the village.

He said that they are going to have meetings with EU experts about the issue.

Cyprus has been occupied since 1974, when Turkish troops invaded and occupied 37% of its territory. As of April 2003 the occupation regime in Cyprus' Turkish occupied areas eased restrictions on free movement.

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