With chicken the traditional dish for the forthcoming Chinese New Year, Beijing is calling for all possible measures to be taken to prevent the emergence of the deadly virus. There have been no outbreaks reported in China this year, meaning there is no boycott by consumers. But the nation is nonetheless on its guard. Bird flu has now killed 45 people: 32 Vietnamese, 12 Thais and one Cambodian.
Some are calling for chicken markets to be shut down as a precaution. But Chinese expert Dr Zhong Nanshan disagrees. “Bird flu is coming from chicken. You cannot ban that, prohibit it. In that sense, it will be more dangerous,” he said. However, risks are being taken. At some markets, sellers and their families work and play in front of the cages by day and at night they sleep behind the stacks.
The Chinese seem confident their government is equipped to deal with a potential crisis. And state media has reported that Chinese scientists have developed a vaccine for poultry and mammals that can fend off bird flu and help stop its spread.