Wed, Jan 11, 2006 - Page 4 News List

Chinese health chief warns about bird-flu complacency

AFP , BEIJING

China warned yesterday against complacency in the fight against bird flu, after the world's most populous nation announced its eighth human case of the virus.

"We cannot lower our guard in the slightest degree against the risk of bird flu triggering a new epidemic," Mao Qunan (毛群安), deputy director general at the Chinese health ministry, told a briefing.

"As long as there are still outbreaks among animals, as the health authority we cannot say bird flu is already past its peak," he added.

In particular he warned against the nightmare scenario of bird flu spreading from human to human, rather than the current transmission from bird to human.

"Even though we haven't yet detected cases of spread among humans, we can't ignore the potential threat," he said.

Mao's remarks came after the health ministry announced late on Monday that a six-year-old boy in the central province of Hunan had become the country's eighth human case of bird flu, state media said.

Mao said bird flu would be one of the top priorities for the health ministry this year.

"In the new year we'll especially emphasize the effort to prevent and control bird flu among humans," he said.

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