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New outbreaks reported, Beijing acting
(AP/China Daily)
Updated: 2005-11-19 06:48

China on Friday reported two new outbreaks of bird flu among its vast poultry flocks as it released dozens of farmers and villagers from medical observation with clean bills of health.

The latest poultry outbreaks were hundreds of miles apart in the northern province of Shanxi and the far northwestern region of Xinjiang, the Xinhua News Agency said. All poultry on nearby farms were killed as a precaution.

China has reported 15 outbreaks of bird flu in poultry since Oct. 19 and has promised tough control measures to prevent human infections.

The country confirmed its first human cases of bird flu on Wednesday a woman who died and a boy who recovered. The boy's sister, who died, is a suspected case. But dozens of people who had contact with the three patients showed no signs of the disease, Xinhua said.

At least 67 people in Asia have died of bird flu since 2003, when the virulent H5N1 strain became entrenched in poultry populations. Vietnam has reported two-thirds of the human deaths.

China's central and provincial governments have been trumpeting their prevention and surveillance measures while state media has given wide play to the disease and official efforts to combat it.

"In 2003, we triumphed over SARS," Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying on state television, referring to another deadly disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome. "It shows that we will triumph over bird flu as well."

Provincial health authorities have also stockpiled 60 million units of bird flu vaccine for poultry, 10 tons of disinfectant and 2,000 sets of protective suits in case of an outbreak, Xinhua said. China has said it is vaccinating all 14 billion chickens, ducks and other domestic poultry.

All local governments have been urged to give timely reports of poultry deaths and hospitals have been asked to open hot lines for consultations or have been appointed as facilities to treat humans infected with H5N1.

In the hard-hit northeastern province of Liaoning, nearly 1 million officials were fanning out to enforce anti-flu controls, which include mandatory poultry vaccinations and twice-daily health checks for all villagers who live near the sites of outbreaks 72,000 people in all, authorities said at a news conference this week.

Officials have been ordered: "If you get too tired to do your job, close your eyes for a moment and then get back to work," said Zhou Liwei, a Liaoning government spokesman.
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