(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) Director-General Ilan Cohen today (Monday), 20 March 2006, convened the Directors-General forum on dealing with bird flu. Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry Director-General Yossi Yishai, Health Ministry Director-General Avi Yisraeli, Defense Ministry Deputy Director-General Victor Bar-Gil, Finance Ministry Deputy Budget Director Shaul Tzemah, Eshkol Regional Council Chairman Uri Na’amati, Lachish Regional Council Chairman Danny Murbiya and other senior officials attended the meeting.

Participants were briefed on the current situation regarding six centers of the disease, and on the scope and nature of the actions that have been taken, and will be taken in the coming days. These actions include culling infected birds and burying them, treating animals within a defined radius, quarantining infected areas and supervising abattoirs around the country.
Participants were also briefed regarding inoculations for people who have come into contact with infected animals.

In addition to the recently established Agriculture Ministry command center, a central command center will be established to coordinate among all professional elements dealing with subduing the disease. The central command center will also provide updated information to all Government ministries.

The Directors-General forum, chaired by PMO Director-General Cohen, will convene regularly in order to make immediate decisions as necessary.

As of tonight, special Defense Ministry teams will work to continue burying the culled birds as per the instructions of Agriculture Ministry professionals. In every community in which there is concern regarding bird flu, the community secretary will coordinate activities on the ground and liaise with the central command center.

Personnel in the relevant units will be reinforced immediately in order to ensure enhanced oversight of the movement of fowl in the State of Israel.

An immediate budget for financing Agriculture Ministry and Defense Ministry actions has been approved; working procedures to allow immediate activity have been formulated.

PMO Director-General Cohen instructed the relevant bodies to act immediately and cooperate fully in order to prevent further spreading of the disease.