china warning

  1. 501 Posts.
    Today's Age.
    China warns of bird flu Great Wall
    By Hamich McDonald
    October 24, 2005

    CHINA has warned that it will close its borders if even a single case of human-to-human transmission of bird flu is found inside the country, despite risking a major slump in its trade, which would harm the global economy.

    The stark warning from one of the country's top health officials came as Asian countries stepped up precautions against a human flu pandemic. Taiwan says it will override patents and go into emergency production of the antiviral drug Tamiflu.

    In Europe, scientists are conducting tests to determine whether bird flu cases discovered in Britain, Sweden and Croatia are the lethal strain that has killed more than 60 people.

    After conferring with Hong Kong and Macau officials about public health emergencies on Friday, Huang Jiefu, a Vice-Minister in the Ministry of Health, said saving lives would be Beijing's top priority if avian flu mutated into a virus transmitted between humans.

    "If there is one confirmed case, we would carry out all necessary measures, which means closing all the checkpoints," Mr Huang said. "To prevent any possible hazard, we would rather slow down our economy a bit, or let the people encounter some inconvenience. We set our citizens' lives as our first priority."

    AdvertisementThe Asian Development Bank, based in Manila, has estimated that even a mild outbreak of a human-to-human mutation of the H5N1 virus could cause losses of up to $US110 billion ($A145 billion) in reduced consumption, investment and trade, while a severe pandemic could lead to global recession.

    The intergovernmental bank said on Saturday that it would provide $US58 million in grants to help combat the disease before it spreads. "Many economic activities would be brought to a halt, while the health systems of most countries would be overwhelmed," a spokesman said.

    The avian flu virus is endemic to poultry and migratory waterfowl across Asia. In the latest outbreak in China, about 2600 birds died at a poultry farm near the Inner Mongolia provincial capital of Hohhot last week. The farm was quarantined and about 10,000 birds were slaughtered.

    After avian flu was found in birds being smuggled from the mainland to Taiwanese pet markets, a senior official in Taiwan has said the island republic would start making its own version of the antiviral drug Tamiflu, which can moderate the symptoms of avian flu.

    The head of Taiwan's Department of Health, Dr Hou Sheng-mao, said Taiwan still hoped its original manufacturers and patent-holders, the Swiss pharmaceutical giant Roche, would grant permission to make a generic form of the drug.

    But if it refuses, Taiwan would go ahead with the production because its laws stipulated that protecting human life was more important than patent protection, Dr Hou said.

    A local pharmaceutical company had begun to produce a generic version of Tamiflu on a small scale, and could produce about 200,000 doses within two months, he said. The drug would not be marketed commercially, but held by the Government for use in a major outbreak.

    Meanwhile, the British scientific magazine Nature has reported that resistance to Tamiflu has been found in the avian flu virus isolated from a patient in Vietnam. Health ministers and experts from 30 countries will meet in Canada's capital today to forge a co-ordinated international front against the deadly virus.


arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch. arrow-down-2 Created with Sketch.