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China Confident of Curbing Bird Flu: Official

Chinese Vice-Minister of Agriculture Liu Jian said Thursday that the Chinese government was confident containing the outbreak of bird flu in the country.

Liu said at an on-going press conference held by the Ministry of Agriculture China had established complete networks for disease control and animal monitoring, comprising 300 monitoring stations directly under the control of the ministry and 147 disease surveillance points on its borders.

National reference and animal disease diagnostic laboratories have been established at provincial and ministerial levels, and emergency plans and technical standards have been developed for controlling animal diseases.

With the help of professionals in disease control and public efforts, and based on the experience gained from the fight against SARS last year, government departments, under the leadership of the Chinese Communist Party (CPC) and the State Council, would together win the battle against avian influenza, Liu said.

The government had urged authorities around the country to continue strengthening their efforts to fight the disease.

Decisive measures would be taken to quarantine the infected areas, while the culling and safe disposal of all poultry at infected sites and in surrounding areas within a 3-kilometer radius would be carried out, along with compulsory vaccination of poultry in areas within 5 kilometers.

Liu said preventive and control measures would be taken in non-infected areas, putting the principle focus of prevention and control on areas surrounding infected sites, key production regions, key breeding farms, large-scale poultry farms, specialized large poultry-farming households, large transportation households, and large processing households.

Liu also called for rigorous medical monitoring and prevention of bird-to-human transmission, the prevention and control of the avian influenza through enhanced scientific research and public education campaigns.

He said efforts should be made to intensify disease surveillance. Starting from Feb. 5, the Ministry of Agriculture would launch the new release system to inform the public of the epidemic situation and provide other relevant information.

China would improve the compensation policy for culls and compulsory immunization and facilitate access to resources such as funds, vaccines, medicines, equipment and other materials as well as technical measures, Liu said.

In line with the urgent circulation by the State Council, the heads of local governments would be entirely responsible and liable while following strictly the regulations and they would be held responsible for neglect of their duties.

The national bird flu prevention headquarters would dispatch five inspection groups to 10 provinces shortly to carry out checks and monitoring work, Liu said.

(Xinhua News Agency February 5, 2004)

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