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Friday, Jan 30, 2004

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No reports of bird flu in the country: Sushma Swaraj

Our Bureau

New Delhi , Jan. 29

THE Union Health Minister, Ms Sushma Swaraj, has said the country is free from bird flu and that no cases have been reported so far.

However as a precautionary measure, advisories have been issued to State Governments to remain alert on any suspected cases and border-States of Punjab, Rajasthan, Gujarat and those in the North-East have been asked to remain extra-cautious.

Speaking to newspersons after a meeting with Agriculture Minister, Mr Rajnath Singh, and officials of WHO and FAO, Ms Swaraj said that a ban on import of processed poultry food has been declared, especially from neighbouring countries.

The Government has decided to screen passengers of Samjhauta Express from Pakistan, where some cases of bird flu have been reported.

Ms Swaraj also said the Border Security Force (BSF) has been asked to remain vigilant.

The State Governments have been asked to be careful about chicken deaths and have been told to kill the birds and burn them if there are large-scale deaths.

The Animal Husbandry Department will start providing information and updates on the spread of bird flu.

Meanwhile, the SAARC nations have said that a joint meeting should be convened to discuss and tackle the issue of bird flu. "We have informed the Ministry of External Affairs that we could hold these talks in India," said Ms Swaraj.

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