Monday, March 21, 2005

More on Quang Binh

Thanh Nien News now says authorities in the central Vietnamese province of Quang Binh were unaware of an outbreak, possibly involving hundreds of residents in Chau Hoa commune, until the newspaper reported it. The nature of the outbreak is still unclear except to be characterized as "symptoms of bird flu." Two children from the commune were reported to have tested positive for H5N1, one of whom, a 13 year old girl has died at Dong Hoi Hospital on March 9. The newspaper says the hospital never reported the case to provincial leaders. Commune residents were also said to have continued "to eat dead chickens" (sic) throughout the Tet holidays in mid February while mass culling was going on in other parts of the country. It sounds like the finger pointing has started in earnest.

Vietnamese authorities have apparently recognized the potential seriousness of this situation:
An interagency task force has now arrived at the commune to take immediate necessary actions to stabilize the situation and fend off the spread of the epidemic, a Thanh Nien source said.

Tests are being carried out with all 195 suspected patients to determine whether they are infected with bird flu.

Meanwhile, patients with unusual symptoms have been transferred to a special hospital in the central city of Hue for quarantine treatment.
It seems strange that a small quasi-official newspaper should be the main source of information about this worrying situation.