Vietnam yesterday reported its first human bird flu death in more than three months, taking the country's toll to 42, amid fears that the deadly virus could thrive in the coming winter flu season.
The 35-year-old man from Hanoi died in hospital last month, after testing positive for the H5N1 virus. He was the first person known to have succumbed to avian flu in Vietnam since July 24.
"Samples taken from the victim were found to be positive for the virus in tests carried out at the National Institute of Epidemiology in Hanoi," health ministry official Tran Duc Long said.
The man was admitted to the Institute of Tropical Medicine in the capital on Oct. 26 and died three days later, Long said.
Official figures now show a total of 92 human cases of bird flu since late 2003, with 42 deaths. The country accounts for more than two-thirds of total human fatalities from bird flu.
News of the latest death came as experts meeting in Geneva warned that a bird flu pandemic was inevitable, could kill millions and inflict up to US$800 billion in economic damage.
Vietnam placed an order yesterday for 25 million doses of Tamiflu, the frontline medicine against a feared global flu pandemic.
Vietnam currently has 600,000 capsules in stock for a population of 82 million, but is also pursuing talks with Swiss drug maker Roche on producing Tamiflu for itself.
"The health ministry is negotiating with representatives of Roche in order to obtain the right to produce Tamiflu in Vietnam," ministry official Vu Thi Hiep said.
Efforts to prepare for a possible pandemic have gathered pace as winter approaches with experts warning that the cold weather could allow the virus to thrive.
"As we approach December and January, with the temperature dropping, the number of outbreaks is going to rise," said Fabio Friscia, a Hanoi-based representative of the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization.
The fear is that the more H5N1 virus spreads, the greater chance it has to mutate, picking up genes from ordinary flu and making it highly contagious from human to human.
The state press said yesterday that bird flu had broken out among poultry in six provinces in recent weeks and quoted Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat as saying more than 20,000 chickens and ducks had been culled.
"When you have more cases and more outbreaks, of course it's of concern but at the same time it shows that the surveillance is improving, which is very important," said WHO spokeswoman in Hanoi Dida Connor.
But Vice Premier Nguyen Tan Dung voiced concern over the ineffectiveness of efforts to combat bird flu.
"The fight against avian influenza does not correspond to the urgency of the situation," Dung said, pointing at a lack of awareness about the virus among large sections of the population
‘TRAVEL FREELY’: Visitors from 10 countries deemed low-risk would be allowed into Thailand, while others must still undergo a week of quarantine at a hotel Thailand plans to fully reopen to vaccinated tourists from countries deemed low risk from Nov. 1, the country’s leader said on Monday, citing the urgent need to save the kingdom’s ailing economy. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Thailand attracted nearly 40 million visitors a year drawn to its picturesque beaches and robust nightlife, with tourism making up almost 20 percent of its national income. However, pandemic-related travel restrictions have left the economy battered, contributing to its worst performance in more than 20 years. Thai Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha announced that the country would be reopening its borders to vaccinated tourists travelling by air from
Vaccination is highly effective at preventing severe cases of COVID-19, even against the Delta variant of SARS-CoV-2, a vast study in France has shown. The research published yesterday — focusing on prevention of severe COVID-19 and death, not infection — looked at 22 million people over 50 and found those who had received jabs were 90 percent less likely to be hospitalized or die. The results confirm observations from the US, the UK and Israel, but researchers say it is the largest study of its kind so far. Looking at data collected starting in December last year, when France launched its vaccination campaign,
Australia’s highest court yesterday dismissed an intellectual freedom claim by a university physicist who was fired in part over his public statements that scientists exaggerated damage to the Great Barrier Reef. Five High Court judges unanimously dismissed physicist Peter Ridd’s claim that he had been unlawfully dismissed in 2018 by James Cook University in Townsville, Queensland. The court ruled that a clause in his employment contract that protected his intellectual freedom was not a “general freedom of speech” clause and did not protect him from being fired for serious misconduct under the university’s code of conduct. Australian Minister for Education Alan Tudge said
HUMAN RIGHTS FIRST: The US and the EU have said they are ready to back humanitarian initiatives in Afghanistan, but are wary of providing direct support to the Taliban Afghanistan’s new Taliban government has warned US and European envoys that continued attempts to pressure it through sanctions would undermine security and could trigger a wave of economic refugees. Acting Afghan Minister of Foreign Affairs Amir Khan Muttaqi told Western diplomats at talks in Doha that “weakening the Afghan government is not in the interest of anyone because its negative effects will directly affect the world in [the] security sector and economic migration from the country,” a statement published late on Tuesday showed. The Taliban overthrew Afghanistan’s former US-backed government in August after a two-decade-long conflict, and have declared an Islamic emirate