Beijing closes live poultry markets
By Wang Zhenghua (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-08 05:46
All the 168 live poultry markets in Beijing were shut yesterday as the
authorities beefed up efforts to contain the spread of the bird flu virus.
The municipal government also closed pet-bird markets, banned chicken raising
in urban areas, and asked citizens to keep their pigeons in cages.
Residents have been told to vaccinate all animals, including pets, against
bird flu and food-and-mouth disease; and those who refuse to do so can be taken
into custody or fined.
The tough measures in the capital are being replicated around the country as
a meeting of hundreds of international experts opened in Geneva with warnings
that a global human flu pandemic is inevitable.
"It is only a matter of time before an avian flu virus ... acquires the
ability to be transmitted from human to human, sparking the outbreak of human
pandemic influenza," World Health Organization Director General Lee Jong-wook
told the gathering.
Experts fear the bird flu virus that is sweeping through Asia and has entered
Europe could mutate into a form that is easily passed between humans, producing
a pandemic that could kill millions and cost the global economy up to US$800
People are not easily infected by the virus and it is passed on almost
exclusively through human contact with birds. But should it spark a human
pandemic, the cost to industrialized countries could be huge, the World Bank
China has not reported any human case of bird flu but the authorities on
Sunday would not rule out that three people could have been infected in
Xiangtan, Central China's Hunan Province. One of the three, a 12-year-old girl,
died last month while her 9-year-old brother and a 36-year-old middle school
teacher are reported to have recovered.
The World Bank report said previous studies on flu pandemics had suggested
any new outbreak could kill between 100,000 and 200,000 people in the United
States alone, which it said translated into economic losses for the country of
between US$100 billion and US$200 billion.
"If we extrapolate from the US to all high-income countries, there could be a
present-value loss of US$550 billion. The loss for the world would, of course,
be significantly larger, because of the impact in the developing world," the
Authorities in China are taking such dire warnings seriously as evidenced by
a string of measures.
Health Minister Gao Qiang yesterday ordered health departments across the
country to act quickly in the prevention and control of human infection of bird
Addressing a national televized conference, Gao told them to strengthen work
in monitoring, control and treatment, stressing that rapid response is crucial.
(China Daily 11/08/2005 page1)