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State Inspections Tighten Flu Stranglehold

Inspection teams were sent by the central government to areas hit by major bird flu outbreaks yesterday, to oversee local leaders work in carrying out State policies on bird flu prevention and control.

The inspectors, including ministry officials and veterinary, quarantine and health experts, are to travel to 11 provinces and autonomous regions of Hebei, Henan, Jiangxi, Hunan, Shandong, Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Fujian, Guangdong, Yunnan and Guangxi.

They are required to examine all emergency plans, guidance systems, epidemic prevention systems, the supplies of emergency materials, and whether tasks and prevention measures have been properly taken, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu said at a meeting of the national bird flu prevention and control headquarters over the weekend.

The Ministry of Agriculture reported yesterday that confirmed H5N1 bird flu cases had been found in the Xiangcheng District of Xiangfan in Hubei Province, Chang'an District of Xi'an in Shaanxi Province, Gaolan County of Gansu Province, and Pingjiang County of Hunan Province, Haifeng County of Guangdong Province, and the city of Yongkang of Zhejiang Province.

No human infections have been found so far, according to the ministry.

Despite new cases of bird flu found in the country, a few countries and regions have agreed on importing part of poultry products from China.

In the United States, bird flu was found at a farm in southern Kent County of Delaware on Friday, as two bird were tested positive for avian flu virus.

But US agriculture officials said the virus called H7 differs from the H5N1 virus in Asia.

On the same day, a 24-year-old Cambodian woman and was suspected to be the first death of bird flu in the country.

The woman, who has a small family chicken farm, fell ill in Takeo, which borders Viet Nam. In another development, the World Health Organization said the bird flu that killed two people in Viet Nam was not a new, more contagious strain, and officials rejected claims that pigs now have the virus.

The UN said on Saturday that "reassuring" test results from the two Vietnamese sisters, who died earlier this month, show "both viruses are of avian origin and contain no human influenza genes."

The women's blood was tested because experts suspected they may have caught the disease from their brother, who also died. That scenario hasn't been ruled out.

(China Daily February 9, 2004)

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