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Sri Lanka geared to tackle Avian Flu
 

Sri Lanka is prepared to meet any possible outbreak of Avian Flu or bird flu as it is commonly known currently sweeping many Asian countries, Healthcare and Nutrition Minister Nimal Siripala de Silva assured yesterday.

The Minister said necessary precautionary measures have already been taken by his Ministry to combat any possible outbreak before it struck.

"We have taken all precautions and are ready for any eventuality." Minister de Silva told a press briefing in Colombo at the end of 23rd meeting of the Health Ministers of World Health Organisation (WHO)'s South East Asia region, which concluded yesterday in Colombo.

Responding to a question from the media, he explained the measures so far taken in Sri Lanka to counter any epidemic. "The Ministry's epidemiology unit has been monitoring the situation and are taking the necessary action."

Earlier, Dr. Jai Narain, Director Communicable Disease Department of the World Health Organisation's Regional officer for South-East Asia warned of a possible outbreak of avian flu.

"In many countries, it has been reported and the virus is changing and it is becoming more deadly", he noted.

Dr. Narain said if it turns into an epidemic, millions of people could be affected." Political and economic implications will be much higher. We have to take this matter seriously," he said.

The spread of this disease from one country to another can occur as a result of trading in birds or through migratory birds infected with virus. "The disease is reported from many poultry farms in the region," he added.

Dr. Narain said Avian flu had now even found its way to countries like Russia, Kazakastan and Mongolia.

Yet this virus is not transmitted from human to human. However, he said there is a possibility of a new virus emerging. "We have to prepare ourselves for any possible outbreak of the epidemic. Effective outbreak management is necessary."

He said the WHO has taken steps to store necessary treatment courses to be used as a pre-emptive measure anywhere in the world. "Besides, many countries are piling up sufficient stocks in their respective countries to face any outbreak." Minister de Silva said there is a greater co-operation among the countries to face this threat. "Inter country co-operation is playing a greater role and we have very close collaboration with member countries."

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