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Doubts over bird flu tests raised
Doubts over testing in quarantine for bird flu have been raised after it emerged Taiwanese finches, rather than a parrot, bought the disease to the UK.
A government report said the mixing of tissue samples led officials to wrongly assume a South American blue-headed pionus was the source of the virus.
Opposition politicians said the report exposed confusion in the system and raised more questions than it answered.
But ministers argued it showed quarantine procedures were working.
The probe for the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) said it was more likely the virus was brought to an unnamed quarantine centre in Essex by 50 finches from Taiwan rather than by the parrot as previously thought.
Because the tissue samples of the first birds to die were mixed, it was unclear which birds had the H5N1 virus strain.
Later tests showed the Taiwanese birds were the "most likely" virus source, as H5N1 was not found in other species.
Shadow environment secretary Oliver Letwin said the report had exposed confusion in the handling of the issue and that quarantine procedures should be tightened immediately.
Testing pooled samples for diseases may have been appropriate in the past but not now when the country was on a state of alert for bird flu, he said...