Taiwan gear up to control avian flu outbreak

On the 15th of January, Taiwanese Premier Mao Chi-kuo called for the central and local governments to work together to fight the avian flu outbreak.
After a briefing by the Council of Agriculture (COA) on the latest developments, Mao said that preventing an epidemic is like engaging in a war. The entire government must work together as a team in order to speedily bring the outbreak under control, with no distinction between the central and local administrations, he remarked.
Mao pointed out that the avian flu outbreak has already spread to chickens and been designated a Level 1 epidemic. The Executive Yuan yesterday set up an avian flu response center with Vice Premier Chang San-cheng serving as commander. Chang’s responsibility is to supervise related agencies to ensure their thorough implementation of various epidemic prevention measures in line with the avian flu contingency response plan.
Although there are not yet known cases of the H5N2 and H5N8 virus subtypes infecting humans, these strains should still be closely monitored and cautiously responded to, Mao instructed. The COA and Ministry of Health and Welfare (MOHW) have already begun monitoring farm operators, residents near affected poultry farms, and epidemic-prevention personnel for infection. Test results should be released in a timely manner to mitigate public doubts, the premier said.
In addition, related agencies should publicize information about how to safely eat poultry products so that citizens will have full understanding and not panic, Mao instructed.
Mao instructed the Environmental Protection Administration to acquire individual farms’ data via local epidemic prevention units. The central and local governments must work together to speedily handle disposals of dead carcasses to avoid spread of the virus and ensure no area is overlooked.
As for compensation and relief measures, Mao directed that investigations of farmers’ damages must begin as soon as possible, and subsidies and loans be granted speedily after the completion of culling at affected farms. To set farmers at ease and help them get back in business, Mao asked the COA to lower lending rates or defer loan installments and announce related measures by the end of this month.
The public is concerned about whether the poultry supply will be sufficient for the coming Lunar New Year holiday (February 18-23). Mao thus called for vigilant tracking of poultry supplies and prices and asked the COA and Ministry of Finance to assess whether emergency imports are necessary.
The premier also enjoined the Ministry of National Defense to continue conducting disinfections. He asked the COA and MOHW to ensure the health of the soldiers carrying out relevant operations to assist local governments. The agencies should dispel the soldiers’ anxieties by minimizing their concerns about health risks, Mao said.
Source: http://www.ey.gov.tw/en/News_Content2.aspx?n=1C6028CA080A27B3&sms=E0588283EFAA02AD&s=B9DD3C848575CDD9


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