2004Edition>News Center>World

Bird flu claims 2 more Vietnamese
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-02-06 23:07

As the death toll rose to 18 in Asia, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said China is focused on prevention and control of the bird flu, and will enhance international co-operation in the growing fight.

Two more deaths in Viet Nam Friday, once again raised the number of people killed by avian influenza.

Zoo keepers vaccinate a red-headed crane at Haicang Zoo in Xiamen, Fujiang Province in East China. The park had vaccinated about 1,300 birds after the outbreak of bird flu in China. An increasing number of zoos across China are closing their aviary exhibits to stop the spread of the disease. [newsphoto]
Meanwhile, a UN official said there is not enough evidence to prove the bird flu virus infects pigs. Earlier on Friday, Anton Rychener, of the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), said pigs in and around Viet Nam's capital of Hanoi tested positive for the H5N1 virus, the most infectious bird flu virus.

The finding was alarming because pigs, whose immune system is similar to that in humans, can become a "mixing vessel" for the flu virus and allow it to infect people infect people.

But Dick Thompson, a spokesman for the communicable diseases division of the World Health Organization's (WHO), said it is too early to make a final conclusion.

As the virus spreads, China has stepped up to the international co-operation plate.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Zhang Qiyue said Friday the government decided to offer urgent aid to six Asian countries suffering from avian influenza.

The six countries are Viet Nam, Thailand, Indonesia, Laos, Cambodia and Pakistan, Zhang said.

At the same time, China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce issued an emergency notice on Friday, requiring immediate shutdown of all live poultry markets within a 10-km radius of bird flu-affected areas and halting trade of live poultry in ordinary markets.

Still, vice-premier Hui urged Chinese scientists to step up research on vaccines and diagnostic technology, while strengthening study on bird epidemiology, pre-empting new infection channels and developing prevention methods.

Hui also said China will issue accurate, correct and timely reports on the spread of the disease, stressing the country plans to establish transparent and effective channels of communication with international organizations, countries and regions to build a united front against bird flu.

In a meeting with Gamal Ahmen, the China representative of the FAO, and WHO representative Henk Bekedam, Hui spoke highly of the effective links between China and the UN agencies.

The vice-premier thanked the two international organizations for understanding and supporting China's efforts to overcome the bird flu crisis.

The representatives of the two international organizations commented positively on China's attitude and policies as regards the epidemic, and expressed their understanding about the current adverse impact the disease has brought on the Chinese people.

The FAO and the WHO will join hands with China to fight the epidemic, the representatives of the two international organizations vowed.

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