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New Animal Epidemic Reporting Deadlines

A State Council regulation issued yesterday said it should be informed by provincial governments of any major animal epidemics within four hours of learning about them.

County and city governments are also obliged by the regulation to report outbreaks to provincial authorities within two hours.

The measure was publicized the same day China's 14th and 15th outbreaks of H5N1 avian influenza to be confirmed among birds since October 19 were announced by the Ministry of Agriculture.

Some 176 chickens, ducks and geese died on Tuesday in Morin Dawa Daur Autonomous Banner in the prefecture of Hulunbuir in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, and 3,500 geese died the next day in a development zone of Shishou City in the central province of Hubei.

The State Council regulation aims at "controlling and stamping out major animal epidemics as soon as possible, ensuring the safety of the breeding industry, protecting people's health and lives and safeguarding normal social order."

It said that bird flu and other diseases with a high incidence or fatality would be covered by it.

The regulation said local government officials who neglect their duties would be removed from their posts and even prosecuted. Those who embezzle emergency funds and drive up prices or cheat consumers will also be penalized.

It listed detailed preparations and emergency measures to cope with animal epidemic cases.

Army and police across China should also support local government efforts to control animal epidemics, the regulation said.

(Xinhua News Agency November 21, 2005)

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