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"We should not bury our heads in the sand," says Magdah Rakha, head of preventive affairs at Egypt's health ministry, and a member of the inter-ministerial committee set up to combat bird flu. "The situation is dangerous …we must be prepared for all possible scenarios … but we should not panic."

Rakha says Egypt has set up 27 observation posts along its borders to test migratory birds for the H5N1 bird flu virus. It has also suspended this year's wild bird hunting season and told people to avoid contact with migrating birds.

All imports of live birds or bird products have been banned and tourists from infected countries could be quarantined if they are suspected of carrying H5N1. Egypt is setting up special laboratories to test for the virus and is monitoring developments regionally and globally, says Rakha.

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