01/10/2007, 00.00
ASIA

Indonesia, China, Vietnam: new bird flu victims

There has been a death in Jakarta, a new case of human infection in Anhui and outbreaks of infection in southern Vietnam. Governments are not managing to stem the lethal virus.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – The H5N1 virus, vehicle of bird flu, has struck Asia once again: between yesterday and today, the disease claimed another victim in Indonesia and a new case of human infection in China and there have been further outbreaks of infection in Vietnamese breeding farms.

 

In Jakarta, an Indonesian 14-year-old boy died today of bird flu. The boy was admitted to Persahabtan hospital four days ago but nothing could be done for him. The number of Indonesians killed by the epidemic has thus risen to 58, one-third of the global total.

 

A 37-year-old peasant from China’s eastern Anhui province, surnamed Li, was infected in December but left hospital this week. The health authorities did not give reasons for his discharge but said people who had contact with Li had been put under medical observation. It seems that none were infected.

 

Beijing reported the presence of the virus only in 2005 despite the fact that bird flu had emerged in Asia already in 2003. It was only under pressure from the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the Communist government admitted that a youth had died of the infection in 2003.

 

Meanwhile, in southern Vietnam, new outbreaks of infection in poultry farms are being reported. The authorities believe the infection could spread across the entire nation within a short time.

 

Dinh Cong Than, director of the Kien Giang province department of animal health, said today that outbreaks were reported in the provinces of Ca Mau, Bac Lieu, Hau Giang and in Kien Giang itself.

 

The most serious problem, he continued, “is the failure to enforce the government ban of hatching and restocking ducks”. The animals are one of the biggest local sources of income and can carry the virus without showing symptoms until they die.

 

Since it emerged, the disease has killed more than 150 people across the world. The United Nations says it is only the high levels of global alert that have averted a mortal pandemic.

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