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Agency should apologize for delayed bird flu report: President

Agency should apologize for delayed bird flu report: President

Taipei, March 4 (CNA) President Ma Ying-jeou demanded Sunday that the Council of Agriculture (COA) apologize to the nation for delaying the report about a highly infectious outbreak of avian influenza in central Taiwan, Presidential Office spokesman Fan Chiang Tai-chi said. Ma also demanded that personnel involved in the delay be punished, Fan Chiang said. He was referring to COA's confirmation one day earlier about the highly virulent H5N2 strain of avian flu that infected chickens at a farm in Changhua County in December. Meanwhile, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said Sunday that two test results for six health officials and three workers at the farm have proven negative for avian flu. However, 53,000 chickens at that farm have been culled as a preventive measure. Further, Chou Jih-haw, the CDC's deputy director-general, said his department is monitoring the health conditions of another 30 people who came in close contact with a chicken farm in Tainan, southern Taiwan, where a possible avian influenza outbreak was reported. The CDC said it had collected blood samples from the 30 people, including health and quarantine officials and farm workers, with the results of the testing being expected within three weeks. But a second test will be needed to determine if the personnel are infected with the disease. As test results for bird flu at the Tainan farm were still pending, the outbreak at the Changhua farm was so far the only confirmed case. In view of the bird flu incidents, New Taipei City established an animal disease emergency response center on Saturday, with more planned checks on bird farms, markets and habitats of migratory birds. The city's agriculture department, however, said no highly pathogenic bird flu virus has been detected in the wetlands where many migratory birds nest and that chickens and ducks being sold on the market tested negative for avian flu. The department also said it had distributed disinfectants to 390 farms and conducted 71 inspections since disease prevention measures were launched last September, said department official Fu Ying-pin. Responding to public outcry against the delayed report, the COA's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said it had started taking precautionary measures against the disease in January -- the general bird flu season. The agency said it had reinforced inspections of local farms and channels for disease reports and that comprehensive disinfecting will be imposed at bird flu-affected farms. Wu Chuan-chin, former president of the Poultry Association Republic of China, estimates that the possible decrease in chicken and egg exports would lead to losses of nearly NT$600 million (US$20.3 million) and a five to 10 percent decrease in production. (By Lee Shu-hua, Lung Jui-yun, Lin Hui-chun, Chen Chih-chung, Wang Hong-kuo, Kuo Chu-chen, Kendra Lin and Jamie Wang)


Updated : 2021-06-25 16:56 GMT+08:00