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Indonesia's president calls for greater efforts to fight bird flu

Indonesia's president calls for greater efforts to fight bird flu

An Indonesian girl who died last week in Central Java tested positive for bird flu, raising the country's death toll to 63, the Health Ministry said Thursday.
The 6-year-old girl from Magelang died Jan. 16 at the Dr. Sarjito Hospital in Yogyakarta, said Ahmad Priyatna, an official at the ministry's information center for bird flu.
"Her death brings the death toll to 63 out of 81 cases," Priyatna said.
Earlier in the day, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called for greater efforts to fight bird flu, saying that owners of backyard chickens in the nation worst hit by the virus must be prepared to give them up for slaughter.
"We have to stop this disease before it is capable of transmitting (easily) from human to human," Yudhoyono told reporters. "We have to prevent a pandemic."
Indonesia has seen five human deaths from the H5N1 virus this month, taking its toll to 62.
The vast island nation has been criticized for failing to crack down on the virus when it first appeared in poultry stocks in 2003.
Yudhoyono said he supported a planned cull of backyard chickens in the capital, Jakarta.
"We need the cooperation of the people, especially those who keep fowl," he said. "We have no choice, I repeat we have no choice, to cull those birds in areas where there are infections reported."
There are estimated to be around 350 million backyard chickens throughout Indonesia, many of which are kept outside houses in the capital and surrounding towns.
Bird flu remains hard for humans to catch and its death toll is tiny when compared to that of other easily preventable diseases in the developing world.
But international experts fear it may mutate into a form that could spread easily between humans and potentially kill millions around the world, including in wealthy nations that have so far been spared human cases.


Updated : 2021-05-14 01:02 GMT+08:00