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France Announces Tough Measures Against Bird Flu

France has announced it will step up efforts to combat a potential arrival of bird flu in the country, following a recent outbreak of the deadly H5N1 avian flu virus in Russia.

French officials Tuesday said they plan to increase stocks of anti-viral medicines and conduct more health checks at major airports handling international flights. Authorities said the number of masks in stock would also be increased to 200 million by 2006.

Russia is seeking to contain the virus now reported in six of the country's regions.

Experts are concerned that birds migrating from Russia could spread the deadly virus to southern Europe and the Middle East.

At least 60 people in southeast Asia have died from bird flu since 2003.