China yesterday moved to calm public concerns about the outbreak of bird flu in the country’s south as officials began a mass culling of poultry in two other provinces where the deadly H5N1 virus is suspected to have struck.
State media did not confirm the suspected outbreaks in the central Hubei and neighbouring Hunan provinces during its 7pm bulletin last night, though an AFP report quoted local officials confirming the death of poultry there was caused by bird flu.
When contacted, World Health Organisation (WHO) spokesman Roy Wadia said he had not received any word of confirmation from the Chinese officials.
Moving to prevent a repeat of the panic over Sars last year, the Chinese authorities yesterday trotted out several health experts on state media to assure the public that bird flu could be prevented and they had only a ‘very slim’ chance of being infected.
‘Based on the current situation, we believe it is an outbreak among poultry, so people should not get panicky about this virus,’ viral expert Zhou Jiao was quoted on saying on state television.
Nothing to worry about. There are no SARS cases in Beijing….
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.