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Belarus takes action against bird flu threat

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  • Belarus takes action against bird flu threat

    Belarus takes action against bird flu threat
    17:25, 20/02/2007

    The Belarus Ministry of Agriculture on Monday approved a set of measures to protect the country from the bird flu epidemic, coming in from Moscow. The Russian sanitary authorities confirmed on Sunday that five districts across the Moscow region were affected by the virus and put on the two-week quarantine.

    The European Radio for Belarus has asked Josif Ramaska, the chief of the Minsk veterinary service, to elaborate on what exactly is going to be done to protect our health.

    ?The measures have set out to step up controls over the eggs and poultry sold at the city?s markets. Secondly, the chicken livestock both at the private households and within the radius of 3 km around the chicken farms and 300 meters around ponds has been vaccinated.

    The government has also increased sanitary controls at the poultry factories,? Ramaska said.

    We decided to research the situation at the Belarusian poultry factories. Kanstancin Lichac, the active chief executive of the Minsk poultry factory No 1, told us about the measures taken at the largest poultry supplier in Belarus.

    ?We have been taking measures already for several months, according to the directives from the Ministry of Agriculture and the Chief Veterinary Authority. Quarantine at our factory implies that unauthorized individuals have no access to the production line.

    Employees also are subjected to reinforced sanitary demands. But, the main problem is with private households, where poultry have an open contact with wild birds. At the factory, chickens are contained in a closed environment,? he said.

    In December 2006, the Belarus government introduced a ban on the sale of live birds as a preventive measure against a possible epidemic. Last week, a government inspection checked four poultry factories in four Belarus?s regions, but revealed no violation of sanitary standards.

    Proposals have also been voiced by the Ministry of Agriculture to ban the imports of the Russian poultry, but only from the factories where the virus has been confirmed.

    Hearing these statements, I decided to check the Minsk-based Euroopt grocery, known for cheap price tags for the Russian poultry. I saw that the freezers that once stored Russian chicken were quickly filled in with the Belarus-made ravioli.

    The grocery?s management refused to tell me where the Russian poultry had gone to within a matter of hours. Afterwards, the grocery?s guards politely walked me outside.

    Finally, when we talked to the veterinary service officials, we accidentally heard a phrase, addressed to one of the junior veterinary inspectors: ??I have already agreed. These chickens will be soon taken by the poultry factory No 1??

    Nobody knows what chickens they were talking about. But, it is a high time to take care of our health now.