Bird Flu

Thailand bird flu 'a threat'

2006-08-09 19:54

Special Report

Bird flu scare in Hong Kong

Hong Kong is on bird flu alert again after a wild bird found in a busy shopping area tested positive for the H5 strain of the avian flu virus.

Bangkok - Thailand on Wednesday declared bird flu a national threat and vowed to tackle the deadly virus, which had claimed 16 lives since its first outbreak here in 2004.

Deputy prime minister Chidchai Vanasathidya said: "Bird flu is a national threat. If we fail to contain the outbreak of bird flu, it could spell disaster for our country.

"Tourists would not come here and the outbreak of bird flu could wreck our poultry industry", urging local officials to co-operate with the central government to fight the H5N1 virus.

Thailand had suffered 24 human cases of bird flu, including 16 fatalities, since the disease was first detected in the country in early 2004.

On Tuesday, it declared more than one third of the country, including Bangkok, a disaster zone as a precaution to help local officials battle the virus.

Bird flu had badly hurt Thailand's poultry industry. It was the world's biggest chicken exporter until countries around the world slapped bans on raw Thai chicken in the wake of bird flu fears in 2004.

Thailand, now the world's fourth-largest exporter of poultry, exported mainly cooked chicken.

Fears over bird flu could also cast a pall over tourism, which accounted for six percent of the kingdom's economy.

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