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China Determined to Control Bird Flu

The Chinese government is determined to control the spread of bird flu and prevent human infections of the disease, said Chinese Vice Premier Hui Liangyu on Friday.


China saw progress in the prevention and control of major epidemics in animals, including bird flu, last year thanks to the "correct leadership" of the central government and coordination by local authorities, he said.


"The progress in prevention and control was better than expected and the epidemic situation was more stable than expected, too," he told the conference on prevention and control of major animal epidemics.


"However, we must clearly realize that the prevention and control of the epidemics such as bird flu are a long-term arduous task, which needs consistent effort," he noted.


Hui said bird flu was currently in a high-prevalence season. Outbreaks in neighboring countries were frequent and the number of human cases was rising, posing threats to China's control of the disease.


"We need to make a full evaluation and preparations and stay on high alert," said Hui.


He instructed local governments and departments to fully implement the vaccination policy, making sure the level of vaccinated poultry remained high, and enhance surveillance to control the disease in affected areas.


The prevention of human infection must be strengthened as well, said Hui, noting that patients must be treated by all means possible and the infection channels must be identified as soon as possible.


More efforts should also be paid in tightening the inspection and quarantine of animals and animal products at borders, so as to stop the disease from entering or leaving China.


Local authorities must continue regulating poultry markets and strictly carry out quarantine measures at poultry slaughtering or production sites, said Hui.


In addition, departments should speed up the establishment of systems to better track the sources of outbreaks, while improving the management of veterinarians and the application of scientific research results.


Hui stressed the leadership of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China and the State Council, and called for more coordinated efforts in enforcing vaccination, timely reporting and emergency response in fighting bird flu.


Experts fear the H5N1 bird flu virus could mutate quickly to allow it to be easily transmitted among humans, which might trigger a global pandemic.


About 47,000 poultry birds died in 10 outbreaks of bird flu in seven provinces on the Chinese mainland last year, with another 2.94 million fowls were culled, said the Ministry of Agriculture in November.


The virus has infected 22 Chinese since 2003 and killed 14. The latest human case was a 37-year-old farmer in east China's Anhui province, who had recovered before his case was reported on Jan. 10.


The Chinese government has ordered the vaccination of millions of poultry birds, and strengthened surveillance and reporting systems at grassroots levels. People diagnosed with pneumonia withan unknown cause were also given special medical attention and treatment.


(Xinhua News Agency January 27, 2007)

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