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China vigilant over bird flu outbreak in DPRK
By He Na (China Daily)
Updated: 2005-04-02 05:50

CHANGCHUN: China has initiated emergency plans to prevent bird flu spreading to the country after close neighbour the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)confirmed an outbreak of the disease.

According to reports, the DPRK culled hundreds of thousands of birds after avian influenza hit two farms in Pyongyang.

An officer of local Inspection and Quarantine Bureau check the animal products carrid by North Korean visitors in Huichun, Northeast China's Jilin Provicne in this picture taken on March 27, 2005. [newsphoto]

Qin Honghu, a senior official from Jilin Provincial Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, said on Friday that Jilin attached great importance to the task of preventing bird flu entering the country and urged all 21 frontier checkpoints on the border between Jilin Province and DPRK to prevent all birds, poultry and other potentially contaminated products from entering or leaving Jilin.

The Agriculture Ministry said on its website on Friday that trade in live poultry and other products that carry a high risk of transmitting the disease, has been banned at the border market and border residents have been prohibited from carrying poultry into or out of the country.

China had not detected any cases of bird flu so far, it said, adding that all poultry along the border had been vaccinated.

Reports from the DPRK say thousands of fowl have died from bird flu in recent weeks and the Ministry of Agriculture of China has sent a special task force to the DPRK to help.

Jilin Province overlooks the DPRK across the Yalu and Tumen rivers. The border between the province and the DPRK is more than 1,200 kilometres. It is also the closest point to the eastern shore of the Korean Peninsula and the Chinese region most at risk of being infected with bird flu.

Up to April 1, Jilin provincial Inspection and Quarantine Bureau had sterilized 1,794 vehicles coming from the DPRK.Work staff seized 66 poultry and other potentially contaminated products from the frontier.

"Jilin is China's leading agricultural province and the largest poultry producer and export base, therefore the role of animal quarantine at the entry gate is crucial," Yu Yongqing, director of the bureau said.

"We sent caretakers from Animal Quarantine Institutes and hygiene inspection departments to each port to monitor and collect daily information from the entry gates," Yu added.

Yanbian Korean Autonomous Prefecture in the eastern part of Jilin is the nation's largest agglomeration of Koreans. The 804,000 Korean people living in the area make frequent and regular visits to the DPRK.

Last Saturday, the bureau seized 120 kilograms of chicken products. Inspection officers destroyed the goods on spot.

It is common to see staff involved in the disinfection of vehicles at the border hold the sprayers high above their heads, or crawl under cars to ensure a thorough job is done.

Compared with the imports and exports of poultry, the cross border movement of migratory birds is much more difficult to control. Hunchun Jingxin wetland in the eastern part of Jilin Province is an inevitable destination of birds migrating northwards from the DPRK.

(China Daily 04/02/2005 page1)

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