CAIRO: The health minister on Monday said that 29 people who had shown symptoms of bird flu after coming in contact with dead birds had tested negative for the disease.
Hatem Mustafa Al-Gabaly told a ministerial committee, which included the ministers of agriculture and environment and officials from the information and interior ministries, that the disease has not appeared in humans in Egypt, according to a statement by the State Information Service. Egypt announced its first cases of the deadly H5N1 bird flu last week.
The ministerial committee reviewed measures taken to stop the spread of bird flu, the statement said. It discussed the possibility of using immunization to protect poultry stocks and a technical committee was asked to provide recommendations on the issue.
Minister of State for Environment Affairs Maged George briefed the committee on measures to ensure safe disposal of infected birds, including allocating 53 safe burial sites across the country.
Egyptian officials have been pleading with citizens not to dispose of dead chickens, turkeys or other birds by throwing them in the roads, irrigation canals or the Nile River.
The ministerial group also reviewed a report on the situation in nine of the provinces where the disease had been reported.
Meanwhile, an airport quarantine official said there were orders not to allow the entry of any poultry.
As well as devastating poultry stocks, the virus has killed at least 91 people in Asia, Turkey and the Middle East since 2003, according to the WHO. Most victims were infected after handling sick birds.
Scientists fear the virus could mutate into a form that is easily transmitted between humans, possibly sparking a pandemic. AP