Monday, January 17, 2005

Bird flu spreads north

Bird flu has spread to northern Vietnam, reaching Hanoi for the first time since it made a comeback last month. Four people have already died from the disease this year, which can spread by contact from sick birds to humans. Since the beginning of 2005, 167,000 birds have died or been culled in 13 provinces and cities in Vietnam. Last year the disease killed 17% of the poultry population, and infected 31 people, of which 20 died from the disease. The PM has instructed all local and provincial offices, along with relevant ministries, to take drastic measures to contain the disease. (Deutsche Presse-Agentur, Jan. 15; Xinhua, Jan. 15; VNA Jan. 15).

Update: PM Pham Van Khai issued a directive temporarily banning the import of all poultry into Vietnam, stating that any imported poultry would be seized and destroyed. Importers will not be compensated and will have to pay for the destruction of the goods. Poultry comes into Vietnam mainly from China, up to eight tons of chickens and an undetermined quantity of eggs have been smuggled into Vietnam from China every day in recent weeks ahead of Tet. World Health Organization officials fear the disease could mutate into an uncontrollable form, causing millions of deaths in Asia. (Reuters, Jan. 18).


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