06/09/2005, 00.00
VIETNAM
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Hanoi to WHO: 3 new cases of bird flu

In April, the UN had denounced slow and scarce information coming from Asian countries about contagion of the H5N1 virus.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Vietnam today informed the World Health Organisation (WHO) that three people have contracted bird flu. This takes to 52 the number of infections registered in the country since last December, 18 of which proved to be fatal.

Trinh Quan Huan, head of the Health Ministry's Preventive Medicine Department said the three, a 30-year-old man and two women, were detected in Hanoi since the middle of May. "All the three have been infected in relation to sick poultry," Huan said in an interview. "Their condition is not serious and by now the 30-year-old man has been discharged." The two women were still being treated in a Hanoi hospital.

A WHO statement said Vietnam's Health Ministry had also confirmed a death by the H5N1 virus that was earlier reported as a suspected case. The man, who died last month, was 46 and hailed from the northern province of Hung Yen, 65 km (40 miles) southeast of Hanoi.

In April, the United Nations had criticized ineffective communications from Vietnamese authorities to international health organizations about contagion. The UN asked the country to send "timely" information when suspect cases were identified, in order to allow for optimal intervention and to contain the spread of the virus.

A Health Ministry report said the virus had killed 18 people since Dec. 16, 2004, when the disease resurfaced, taking the country's total to 38 since it appeared in late 2003. The disease also killed 12 Thais and four Cambodians. State media reports that the government anti-bird flu committee has ordered the vaccination of poultry in the northern province of Nam Dinh and the southern province of Tien Giang by the end of June. In August, vaccination of waterfowl and chickens would become mandatory in the regions facing a high infection risk.

Bird flu first emerged in the Mekong Delta in southern Vietnam in late 2003, then spread to the northern region where the virus appears to develop rapidly during the winter. Scientists fear the avian flu could mutate into a form capable of generating a global pandemic.
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