08/08/2013, 00.00
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Bird flu terrorizes Nepal, but government reopens to poultry trade

by Kalpit Parajuli
After the first outbreaks of infection - still ongoing - authorities had blocked imports and exports. Experts: "They are safeguarding the economy, but not the health of the population."

Kathmandu (AsiaNews) - Nepal today reopened the import and exports of poultry, despite almost daily reports of new cases of bird flu in the country. The population is said to "terrified" by the threat of contagion and experts accuse the government of wanting to "safeguard the health of the economy rather than people." In order to justify the decision, the authorities have announced plans to eliminate 6 million chickens, and that at least one million specimens will be reared in the great valley near the capital to monitor their growth.

Just yesterday a group of scientists confirmed the first case of direct human transmission of the H7N9 virus in China, an evolved strain of bird flu, which since last March has killed more than 40 people across Asia.

After the discovery of outbreaks of infection in the outskirts of Kathmandu, a week ago the government blocked the trade of poultry and substitutes, ordering the removal of 200 thousand units. In announcing the reopening of the market, Narayan Ghimire - spokesman of the Animal Health Directorate of Nepal - said: "The government will continue to monitor the areas at risk, but withdraws the ban to save the investment of millions of dollars. Our Country has a poor economy, and if we continue with the ban we would lose too much money. "

However, the Department of Livestock Services, said that there is a high risk of transmission of human beings. "There is a need - say experts - for at least a 21 day ban to monitor the situation."

The breeding of poultry accounts for 2% of the GDP of Nepal, and about 50 thousand people work in this sector.


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