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  Tuesday, January 26, 2021
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Local experts have said avian flu is to blame for mass bird deaths near a popular resort on Turkey's Aegean Sea coast
Local experts have said avian flu is to blame for mass bird deaths near a popular resort on Turkey's Aegean Sea coast, Turkish television said Tuesday. Wild and domestic fowl have been reported dead in Kusadasi, which literally translates as "bird island," and is located 580 kilometers (about 363 miles) from Istanbul. Local authorities ordered the slaughter of domestic fowl in the region Tuesday. Although the disease is yet to be confirmed 100%, the suspicion is that the deadly H5N1 virus, which has already claimed the lives of three children in Turkey, has now reared its head in a resort that is visited by nearly 20 million foreign holidaymakers every year. The World Health Organization (WHO) confirmed 14 human bird flu cases in Turkey Monday. The organization said they had contracted the disease from domestic birds and there were no data on human-to-human transmission of the virus. Turkey's Agriculture Ministry said avian flu cases had been reported in 16 regions, mainly in the east and southeast of the country, but some cases had already been reported in Istanbul and Anakara. Poultry sales have been banned in street markets in Istanbul, which is home to 14 million people, quarantine has been imposed in some districts, and domestic poultry has begun to be slaughtered. Over 100,000 fowl have been killed in the country as of today. Neighboring countries have begun to take measures to combat any potential spread of the virus. While Iran announced the closure of at least one border crossing, Armenia said Monday it was planning to allocate more than $100,000 on measures to prevent bird flu from affecting its territory. In particular, teams started to disinfect vehicles crossing the border. Georgia is also taking preventive measures and is considering closing the border with Turkey. Local experts have not confirmed bird flu in one Georgian village not far from the border with Azerbaijan where domestic fowl were reported dead Thursday. Meanwhile, Russia's chief doctor, Gennady Onishchenko, said Monday that the border with Turkey would have to be closed if bird flu continued to spread in the country. Speaking about the need to impose a temporary ban on travel to Turkey, Onishchenko told a Moscow radio station: "If the situation deteriorates, we will ban [travel], although in line with World Health Organization requirements." He added that it was premature to resort to the measure. A Russian tourism official said earlier in the day that reports about bird flu had not deterred Russian tourists from visiting Turkey, a popular holiday destination for Russians, but added they could eventually influence the flow of holidaymakers to Turkey.
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