The Irish Agriculture Minister Mary Coughlan warned today, that Ireland must be in state of readiness for a potential outbreak of bird flu here, after reports of incidences of the H5N1 strain of the virus in both Germany and the Czech Republic in recent days.
“Ireland must be in a state of high alert” she said, adding that a number of immediate steps must be taken by the Government to reassure the public that everything possible is being done to prepare for the arrival of avian flu.
The Irish Agriculture Minister reminded us that “..this virus respects no borders and the need for extreme vigilance and all measures necessary to prevent its spread to Ireland is the immediate priority. This must include increased surveillance at ports and airports”.”We must carry out an immediate emergency simulation of how the country will deal with the arrival of bird flu. We should establish a biosecurity unit without further delay so that we can handle and contain the virus when and if it arrives.” said the Minister.
She suggested that an overall figurehead should be appointed immediately to co-ordinate the national response to the threat.
Minister Coughlan added a chilling note to her speech by saying:
“If the Government procrastinates, it may be too late. By that time the virus will have made the short journey to Ireland and we will be in the midst of a national crisis.”
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