Dutch officials have taken a step towards reopening farms that were hit by the severe outbreak of bird flu in the country.

The Agriculture Ministry said the first chickens would return to a bird flu-hit farm on Friday, but only on a trial basis to begin with. The chickens will be monitored for any signs of the highly infectious disease for three weeks. If the test period is a success, the farm would be allowed to begin repopulating and running as normal, reported Reuters.

Officials launched a clean-up operation in June, aimed at getting rid of infected manure and disinfecting farms.

The authorities have said that farms in the central Gelderland province, where the outbreak began, would be the first to open as the last reported case there was on 7 April.