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New Rules to Keep Bird Flu Under Tight Control

The central government says it will undertake a series of concrete measures to help control and prevent the spread of the deadly bird flu, the State Council decided at a meeting presided by Premier Wen Jiabao Thursday in Beijing.

The areas affected by the flu must report new cases in a timely and accurate manner, cull all the infected poultry and sterilize affected regions.

Areas not hit by avian flu, also known as the H5N1 virus, are urged to take strict precautionary measures, especially at large poultry farms and major poultry producing regions.

All levels of government are to allocate money to cover prevention and flu-control expense, and compensate people who suffer financial losses from the extermination of their poultry.

The nation will also step up scientific research on the virus and undertake the production and storage of related vaccines.

The quarantine on poultry imports will be strengthened and a crackdown on the smuggling of poultry will be undertaken.

In addition, raising awareness on the disease and how it can be prevented will be a priority.

The government has also said it will set up a system to monitor and respond to sudden animal disease outbreaks.

The Ministry of Commerce, along with the General Administration of Customs, State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and the Ministry of Agriculture, announced Thursday an immediate ban of export of poultry and related products by Chinese farmers from areas hit by the flu.

Poultry imports from the Republic of Korea, Japan, Viet Nam, Cambodia, Thailand, Laos, Pakistan and Indonesia where deadly bird flu cases have been reported were banned as of Wednesday.

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Zhang Qiyue said Thursday that claims saying China is the source of the Southeast Asian bird flu outbreak are incorrect, unfounded, unscientific and, therefore, irresponsible.

Avian influenza is a disease that physicians have known about for 100 years, Zhang said. The sources and infection channels of the disease follow epidemiologic patterns and require scientific study to understand.

Officials from the World Health Organization said earlier that it was too early to target any country as the source of disease, Zhang noted.

Taiwan has reported new cases of bird flu in ducks and has increased the number of fowl it plans to cull to around 50,000, Reuters quoted officials as saying Thursday.

Around 10,000 ducks will be destroyed after some were found to be infected with the flu in the southwestern county of Yunlin, said Huang Kuo-ching, an official in charge of animal health inspection.

(China Daily January 30, 2004)

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