China bans bird imports from flu-hit countries
Updated: 2006-02-21 06:57
China has banned the import of pet and wild birds from countries hit by the
deadly H5N1 strain of avian flu, as authorities try to prevent a large-scale new
outbreak this spring.
The government in Beijing announced the import ban in an emergency circular
on Monday, ordering that inspections be stepped up at ports to keep infected
wild birds and pets from entering the country, the Xinhua news agency said.
Licenses previously issued for the import of such birds from flu-affected
countries have been revoked, Xinhua said.
The move came after France became the sixth European Union country to confirm
an H5N1 case and as Nigeria confirmed that the virulent bird flu strain had
spread to three new states and the capital Abuja.
China has itself reported 34 outbreaks of the virus in poultry since the
beginning of last year, with most occurring since October. Twelve human cases
have been reported, eight of them fatal.
The government on Monday ordered port officials to screen passengers from
flu-hit countries who show symptoms such as fever or coughing, and also called
for better screening of luggage to prevent the smuggling of pet birds.
Any birds from countries with recorded H5N1 cases that are brought illegally
into China will be slaughtered, Xinhua said.
Earlier, Agriculture Minister Du Qinglin called for better flu prevention
measures nationwide, saying many parts of northern China were facing a "serious
threat" because of the imminent return of migratory birds in the spring.
The disease has had a dramatic impact on the world's biggest poultry
industry, which produces 14 billion birds annually.
World Health Organization (WHO) experts have said the virus is "endemic" in
parts of China, and that the country's poultry flocks remain vulnerable to
Despite attempting to vaccinate every chicken in China, the government
announced last November that 21.1 million birds were slaughtered in efforts to
contain the disease.