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Guangxi taking steps to ward off bird flu
By Qin Yan (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-02-26 01:57

South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region is taking measures to ward off bird flu as the epidemic expands to the border between China and Viet Nam, the Ministry of Agriculture said.

Bilateral trade along the 1,020-kilometre border between Guangxi and Viet Nam has grown in recent years.

Half of Viet Nam's provinces and cities have reported bird flu cases during the past month and more than 1.2 million poultry have been slaughtered, according to the ministry. And 12 of the 18 people in Viet Nam confirmed to have been infected with the disease have died.

Although there have been no reported outbreaks in Guangxi, the regional government has spared no effort to prevent one, the report quoted provincial animal epidemic official Ren Biqiang as saying.

The autonomous region suspended poultry imports from Viet Nam on January 6 and has closed the market for poultry trade in the border area, said the report.

Strict quarantine and disinfection measures for people, vehicles and materials crossing the border are being carried out.

Meanwhile, at the three-day Second FAO/OIE Regional Meeting on Avian Influenza Control held in Ho Chi Minh City, Viet Nam, experts concluded that the H5N1 bird flu virus will not be eliminated in the near future and the risk of human infection will continue, according to Xinhua News Agency.

The meeting was organized by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Organization for Animal Health in collaboration with the World Health Organization and the Vietnamese Government.

At the closed-door meeting which concluded on Friday, the experts warned that the "risk of the virus acquiring characteristics for effective human to human transmission and further global spread is likely to increase."

Therefore, they said, it is essential to control the disease at the source to prevent the occurrence of H5N1 infections in humans.

They suggested international organiza-tions work together with relevant governments to manage the risk of transmission from animals to humans.

The Director of Viet Nam's Department of Animal Health Bui Quang Anh said that bird flu-hit countries in Asia have shown their determination regarding regional and international co-operation.

He noted that Viet Nam is always willing to work with other nations and international organizations.

The Li Ka Shing Foundation of Hong Kong announced on Friday in Hong Kong it would donate 3 million euros (US$3.96 million) to support the fight against avian flu.

(China Daily 02/26/2005 page2)

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