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Bird flu: Beijing demands rapid response
By Bao Daozu (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-10-25 05:51

Huang Jiefu, vice-health minister, was quoted as saying so during a meeting with health officials from Hong Kong and Macao last week.

The Chinese capital has stepped up its efforts to fight bird flu by sending inspectors to farms, homes and migratory bird sanctuaries to enforce disease prevention controls.
A Chinese vendor cleans a slaughtered chicken at a market in Nanjing, in east China's Jiangsu province, October 22, 2005. [newsphoto]

But a ministry press official told China Daily yesterday: "The report is inaccurate."

The ministry said in a statement yesterday that it signed an agreement with representatives from Hong Kong and Macao on a mechanism to deal with unexpected public health hazards.

In a related development, forestry authorities have set up a national network of 118 monitoring stations to check on outbreaks of wildlife disease.

"We have got some 480 reports from provinces that have such stations," said Zhao Liangping, an official with the State Forestry Administration (SFA).

He described some of the reports as "very important" for SFA to control possible wildlife epidemics, including bird flu.

Three groups of experts have been sent to the provinces on the routes of migratory birds heading south before the onset of winter.

So far this autumn, no bird flu has been reported through the monitoring network, said Cao Qingyao, a spokesman for SFA.

Meanwhile, South China's Guangdong Province will set up a number of wild bird monitoring stations in Guangzhou, Shantou, Zhanjiang and Sihui.

Experts are worried that Asians are more likely to be affected by the virus, given the traditional methods of raising poultry in the region.

"The risk of bird-to-human contact in Europe is far less than in Asia," Alejandro Thiermann, president of the International Animal Health Code for the animal health body OIE, said in an interview with Reuters.

(China Daily 10/25/2005 page1)

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