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» 11/04/2005 12:20
ASIA
Bird flu pandemic would cost Asia 300 billion dollars

The Asian Development Bank predicts possible global recession. More outbreaks in China and in Vietnam, and four new infections in Indonesia and Vietnam.



Bejing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – There are new outbreaks of bird flu infection in China and in Vietnam and three children in Indonesia have presented with symptoms of the disease. According to experts, a pandemic would cost Asia at least three million lives and 300 billion US dollars.

The Asian Development Bank (ADB), in a report published yesterday, warned that a pandemic would infect 20% of the population in Asia alone, killing three million people, with a cost of more than 282 billion US dollars (direct damages and expenses, decline in trade, tourism and movement), equal to a 6.5% drop in the overall Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Another 14.2 billion would be lost due to death and lost working time resulting from sickness and quarantine. In 2003, SARS, which infected "only" 8,000 people and killed 800, exacted a toll equal to 2% of the income of East Asia. Asia's economic growth would come to a standstill and there could be a global recession. China, Hong Kong, Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand would be the countries hardest hit because of their high population density, extensive trade links with other countries and prevalence of poultry breeding farms. Already now the disease is costing South-east Asian states very dear: in Vietnam losses are equivalent to 0.1-0.2% of the GDP, however it could well increase if the current situation worsens. The loss for the entire world would amount to around 800 billion dollars.

China. The fourth new case of infection in three weeks was discovered on 26 October but only declared today. The outbreak occurred among wild and bred birds in Badaohao village in the north-east region of Liaoning. A total of 8,940 birds died and another 369,000 were culled within a 3km radius. Quarantine has been imposed the vaccination of 14 million chickens ordered. The Agriculture Ministry said the virus was borne by migrating birds; the stricken area is along their transit route.

Vietnam. More than 3,000 domestic birds died in the villages of Yen Lu, Van Trung and Tang Tien, in the northern province of Bac Giang, 50 km north-east of Hanoi. The area has been quarantined and a suspect case of infection is undergoing testing: a 25-year-old woman who is seven months pregnant, who was admitted to the General Hospital in Bac Giang province yesterday.

Indonesia. Siti Fadillah Supari, Health Minister said yesterday that three children aged under five years are being tested. They were admitted to hospital in Jakarta presenting symptoms of the disease (fever, shortness of breath and signs of infection). The UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) estimates there are 30 million "backyard chicken" households accounting for about 200 million birds. In 2003, the virus struck 23 out of 33 provinces and more than 10 million chickens died. (PB)

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