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BRITAIN ON ALERT FOR ANTHRAX ATTACKS; THE WAR ON TERRORISM.

FEARS of an anthrax attack in Britain were growing today after one of America's most powerful politicians was sent a letter laced with the deadly bacteria that cause the disease.

Amid growing worldwide fears of biological attacks by terrorists, police confirmed a letter containing anthrax bacteria was received yesterday in the office of Senate majority leader Tom Daschle.

Just hours later three more people, including a seven-month old boy, had tested positive for anthrax in the US.

The baby is the child of an ABC television news employee and had visited the company's New York newsroom on September 28.

Officials said the boy was responding well to treatment for skin anthrax, not the more dangerous inhaled variety.

In Florida, Ernesto Blanco has become the second employee at a publishing house to test positive for inhaled anthrax. Photo editor Robert Stevens died of inhalation anthrax on October 5.

A letter to a top Washington lawmaker has also tested positive.

At a news conference today New York Mayor Rudolph Giuliani urged caution, but stressed that there was no need to panic. "There's nothing to be afraid of," he said.

The Daschle letter and similar scares in other congressional offices prompted a halt to all mail deliveries in the Capitol - the main building of the US Congress.

The latest three cases have come after a letter was sent to Senator Daschle, who was not in his office when the package was opened.

It was not immediately clear whether any of the 40 staff working in his office had been exposed to the bacteria.

Like an earlier letter containing anthrax sent to NBC's New York headquarters, the one sent to Senator Daschle was postmarked Trenton, New Jersey.

Fifteen people have now tested positive for the deadly disease and one has died.

President George Bush said a link to Osama bin Laden's Al Qaida terrorist network - blamed for the September 11 terror attacks - could not be ruled out although there was no hard evidence as yet.

In the Commons, Home Secretary David Blunkett outlined details of the Government's emergency terrorism package, including measures to tighten the law relating to nuclear, chemical and biological materials.

"There is no immediate intelligence pointing to a specific threat to the United Kingdom but we remain alert, domestically as well as internationally," he told MPs.

"If we fail now to take the necessary action to protect our people, future generations will never forgive us."
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Publication:Coventry Evening Telegraph (England)
Date:Oct 16, 2001
Words:404
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