11/11/2005, 00.00

New human bird flu cases suspected in Vietnam and China

In Liaoning province new outbreaks have occurred, forcing the authorities to put hundreds of people under observation. Indonesia refuses loans to fight the disease, will accept only grants. Dead birds found in Kuwait.

Hanoi (AsiaNews/Agencies) – New suspected human bird flu cases have been found in Vietnam and China. In China's Liaoning province hundreds of farmers are under medical observation or quarantine. Indonesia has refused millions of dollars in loans; it says it will accept only grants.

China. A new outbreak was reported in Beining, a village near the city of Jinzhou (itself hit by an outbreak two days ago), that left 300 chicken dead.

It is the fourth in the area in the last week; the 7th in China in the last three weeks.

The press reports another outbreak that killed 1,400 birds in Mogutu, a northern village on the border with Inner Mongolia. The authorities have not yet confirmed it.

In Liaoning province 12.5 million heads of poultry have been culled in a week according to official figures, but the virus has not been contained. At least 15 villages have been affected so far.

More than 3,600 people in Liaoning who have been in close contact with diseased poultry are also being monitored; about 120 have been placed under quarantine, including a woman from Heishan county who has been in hospital since November 6 and who shows symptoms of pneumonia. Tests are underway to determine whether she was infected by the chicken she was raising.

Vietnam. Two other human bird flu cases have been reported in Bac Giang province, where some 134,000 birds died or well culled in the past week.

In the northern province of Hai Duong, another outbreak has occurred; 3,300 birds died or were culled.

Since October 7 of Vietnam's 64 provinces have seen new outbreaks and the authorities are concerned about the coming winter, when the influenza tends to get worse.

By November 15 the ban on raising and selling live poultry in urban areas will be in place.

Prime Minister Phan Van Khai called on the army and police to help with anti-flu work as new outbreaks are reported despite mounting efforts to contain the virus.

"In an emergency, the army will be deployed to isolate the infected area," Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat said.
The government also plans to build a hospital in the southern province of Kien Giang, near the border with Cambodia, which will be able to take in Cambodian patients, according to Dinh Cong Than, head of Kien Giang's Preventive Medicine Department

The Cambodian health system is rudimentary at best and early this year two Cambodian women infected by bird flu were taken to a hospital 90 km (55 miles) inside Vietnam, where they died.

Experts fear the lack of effective monitoring systems in poor countries like Cambodia could increase the risks of a human bird flu pandemic.

Thailand. New tests have confirmed new outbreak in two provinces near the capital of Bangkok.

North Korea. The government issued a bird flu alert, exhorting people to unite against a potential outbreak of the disease and calling the task "significant" in showing the "superiority of its socialist system".

The alert entails putting chicken farms off-limits to outsiders and requiring feed transport vehicles to be disinfected.

Bird flu hit North Korea earlier this year, forcing the communist state to cull about 210,000 chickens and other poultry.

No new cases of bird flu have since been reported.

Indonesia. Agriculture Minister Anton Apriyantono announced that his government had refused a million loan from United States, Germany and Japan. Jakarta, he said, would accept only grants, not debts. He called on the international community to show "greater generosity".

"We will not take the loan offer, because this is not a problem only for Indonesia. This is an international issue and thus should be faced together," he said.

Indonesia has not carried out any mass culling as the World Health Organisation asked because it cannot compensate farmers.

Kuwait. Officials in Kuwait said yesterday two birds infected with avian flu were culled, the first confirmed cases in the Gulf Arab region. But they were infected with H5N2, a less virulent strain of avian influenza
The situation is said to be under control. The ban on importing exotic birds remains in effect. (PB)

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See also
Avian flu claims more human victims
Human-to-human bird flu transmission feared in Indonesia
Ho Chi Minh City to slaughter all poultry because of bird flu
Five-year old boy is Thailand's 14th bird flu victim
Bird flu outbreak in West Java and South Sulawesi