China suspends poultry exports, imports
( 2004-01-29 13:38) (chinadaily.com.cn)
China has decided to suspend the export of poultry and related products by Chinese farmers from bird flu-hit areas and halt fowl imports from eight bird flu-affected countries, the Ministry of Commerce said Thursday.
So far, confirmed and suspected bird flu cases have been reported in parts of China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region bordering Vietnam, and Hunan and Hubei provinces in central China.
The ministry issued an announcement Wednesday jointly with the Ministry of Agriculture, General Administration of Customs and State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, prohibiting the export of poultry products from China's bird flu-hit areas beginning Wednesday.
According to the announcement, poultry imports were also banned beginning Wednesday from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Pakistan and Indonesia, where deadly bird flu cases have been reported.
The World Health Organization (WHO) has confirmed avian influenza cases in Cambodia, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Vietnamand China. The disease has caused human deaths in Thailand and Vietnam. However, the virus has not jumped to human beings in China yet, according to Chinese official sources.
Agriculture and health ministers from China, Cambodia, Indonesia, Vietnam, Laos, Malaysia, Singapore, the European Union and the United States, and officials from the WHO and UN Food and Agricultural Organization attended a meeting on bird flu Wednesdayin Bangkok of Thailand to discuss measures to fight the disease.
Officials: China not the source of bird flu
Facing allegations it was the source of the Asia-wide bird flu outbreak, China's Vice Agriculture Minister Qi Jingfa told reporters in Bangkok: "It is purely a guess, a groundless guess."
"We have had very strict surveillance," Qi added.
In Beijing, Foreign Ministry Spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said on Thursday that it is "groundless"to say China was the source of the bird flu outbreak hitting some Asian countries.
"We believe that such an allegation is totally inaccurate and groundless, and doesn't respect science," said Zhang at a regular press conference.
The New Scientist, quoting unidentified health experts on Wednesday, said the outbreak "probably" began in China.
"A combination of official cover-up and questionable farming practices allowed it to turn into the epidemic now under way," the weekly magazine said.
A decision by China's poultry producers to vaccinate birds after an outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 may have been a mistake and could have contributed to the problem, it said.
Hong Kong killed millions of chickens when the H5N1 bird flu killed six people. To protect its poultry, Chinese producers used an inactivated H5N1 virus after the outbreak.
"If the vaccine is not a good match for the virus -- as is the case with the H5N1 strain now sweeping Asia -- it can still replicate, but most animals do not show signs of the disease," the magazine said.
China earlier this week confirmed bird flu had been discovered at a duck farm in southern Guangxi Zhuang Automous Region near its border with Viet Nam.
Suspected cases of bird flu have also been detected in central China's Hubei and Hunan provinces.
Local officials said Wednesday two suspected outbreaks of the H5N1 strain of avian influenza had been confirmed in central China -- at a chicken and duck farm in Wugang in Hunan Province and a chicken farm at Wuxue in Hubei Province.
"Local veterinarians have basically confirmed it's bird flu," an official surnamed Jian at Wuxue livestock and animals bureau was quoted as saying.
Ministry of Agriculture officials are retesting samples in national laboratories, a ministry employee said, declining to confirm the two cases.
No human cases of bird flu, which has killed 10 people in Viet Nam and Thailand so far and spread to 10 Asian countries, have been reported yet in China.
The Chinese vice agriculture minister was in Bangkok to attend a conference on the bird flu crisis that pledged a joint fight against a virus which poses a serious threat to economies and public health in the region. Qi said he is confident the measures taken by the Chinese authorities will be able to control the disease.
Meanwhile, Chinese President Hu Jintao and Premier Wen Jiabao ordered government officials at all levels to step up effective surveillance and do a good job in preventing the spread of bird flu.
"Once the epidemic is detected, strictly kill, fully disinfect, prevent the disease from spreading and guarantee people's health," their directive said.
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