Amid confusion over the eventual possible death toll of a bird flu epidemic the international community is being urged to act to prevent a catastrophic global outbreak. Indonesia, where six people have died of the disease, is warning that it could easily spread to neighbouring countries and beyond.
The World Health Organisation has said a pandemic could kill between 2 and 7.4 people. Dr David Nabarro, who has been given the task of coordinating the UN’s response to any outbreak, has said some experts believe it could be even higher. Across south-eastern Asia a mutated bird flu virus has killed around 65 people. At a summit in the Philippines a nations in the region agreed to endorse a three year-plan to combat the spread of the virus.
Experts say a lack of funds is hampering the fight against the virus. The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said its appeal for money in May received a lukewarm response from governments. An international bird flu conference is planned for December at which its hoped more funds can be raised.