Another grim warning:
China’s chances of halting bird flu are dwindling, the United Nations warned on Saturday, as the deadly virus extended its reach across Asia and sped towards Thailand’s southern tourist hot spots.
“We have repeatedly said there is a brief window of opportunity to act within China,” World Health Organisation specialist Julie Hall said after Beijing confirmed new outbreaks in the provinces of Hubei and Hunan were the lethal H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
“This latest news strongly suggests that the window is getting smaller with each passing day,” she said.
Controlling outbreaks in China — expected to produce some 10.1 million tonnes of poultry in 2004 — is particularly worrisome for health experts because nearly four out of five chickens, ducks and other fowl are raised on household farms, where peasants live in close proximity with their animals.
Humans are only believed to be able to catch the virus from birds, not each other, but experts fear it could mutate and become infectious among people.
From all I can see, China is doing as good a job as possible to retain transparency and to nip this brewing crisis in the bud. The sheer size of the country, however, makes this an awesome challenge.
Richard Burger is the author of Behind the Red Door: Sex in China, an exploration of China's sexual revolution and its clash with traditional Chinese values.