Local officials have accused Turkey's government of moving too slowly to combat bird flu when it was still confined to fowl, as the number of people infected with the deadly H5N1 strain climbed to 18.
Mukkades Kubilay, the mayor of Dogubayazit -- where three siblings died a week ago -- complained that Ankara had sent only three doctors to help, and that there were not enough workers to help destroy chickens, ducks and geese as a precaution.
"It's an extraordinary situation," she said on Thursday.
"There aren't enough workers. We don't have enough technical people ... We're trying to do it on our own." she added.
National health and agriculture authorities denied they had done too little, too late, to contain the outbreak, which was first discovered in poultry in December and swiftly spread to people.
"Whoever says that we've responded too slowly has ill intentions," Health Ministry spokeswoman Mine Tuncel said. Turkey's agriculture minister, Mehdi Eker, insisted there was no delay in responding to the first reports of infected birds on Dec. 15, and said culling of poultry began immediately.
"The fight against this disease had been pursued through a clear and transparent policy," he said.
Questions about whether the government acted swiftly and aggressively enough early in the outbreak lingered on Thursday as officials raced to contain the disease, which Eker said had been confirmed in 11 of Turkey's 81 provinces and was suspected in 14 others.
Health authorities raised the number of people infected with H5N1 from 15 to 18, after it turned up in preliminary tests on two people hospitalized in southeastern Turkey and in a lung of an 11-year-old girl who died last week in the same region. The girl was the sister of two teenagers who became the first fatalities outside East Asia, where the deadly strain has killed 76 people since 2003.
Although three of the 18 people confirmed with the virus have died, several others are in a stable condition or show few signs of illness, suggesting that the virus may not be as deadly as earlier believed. Previously, more than half of those confirmed to have contracted the disease died.
Eight-year-old Sumeyya Mamuk, who became infected with bird flu after comforting, hugging and kissing dying chickens, was released from a hospital in the eastern city of Van on Thursday and returned to her family. Her doctors said she was in good condition.
Health Minister Recep Akdag said he believed Turkey soon would overcome the outbreak. The WHO has stressed that so far, there have been no cases involving person-to-person infection.
"The EU and the world will see Turkey put its signature on a great success," Akdag said.
‘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