Veterinarians confirmed Thursday that the H5N1 strain of bird flu that was found in several communities in the south of the country had also been detected on Moshav Bekaot in the Jordan Valley. Eshkol Regional Council head Uri Naamati said, however, that no new cases of avian flu had been found on farms in the Eshkol region in the South. The Agriculture Ministry also carried out tests on bird carcasses found in the Sharon region Thursday, but results showed that the birds had not died from the virus. Meanwhile, following the discovery of bird flu in the Gaza Strip, Health Minister Ya'acov Edri directed his ministry to give the Palestinian Authority 300 doses of Tamiflu tablets, which are designed to combat the deadly virus. The medicine will be transferred to the Gaza Strip by means of the District Coordination Office (DCO) at the Erez checkpoint. Late Thursday night Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz responded positively to a request from Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas to transfer poison to Gaza to assist in exterminating the infected chickens in the area. The decision to help the PA came as a result of a request issued by a World Health Organization official to the Health Ministry. Experts estimated that the outbreak of bird flu in Israel, which was first detected early last week, would cost the state between NIS 25-30 million. For farmers who have been affected by the virus, the main question now is of compensation, said Naamati. "I believe we will be compensated," he said, adding that the government had promised to reimburse farmers at a 50 percent advance on direct damages within the next week, with the rest of the compensation to follow in a month. The Ynet Web site reported that factory heads from the Cold Chicken Factory in Sderot had met with Agriculture Minister Ze'ev Boim on Thursday to discuss compensation for their workers. The factory's workers had not been paid for the days that the factory was closed this week due to the bird flu outbreak, but Boim assured them that he would raise the issue in the next cabinet meeting.

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