S. Korea confirms 2 more bird flu cases
The Korea Herald/Asia News Network
By Lee Hyun-jeong
Two more cases of bird flu were confirmed on Saturday despite quarantine efforts, raising further concerns over the virus spreading, officials said.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, more than 10,000 fowl at two farms, in Yeongam-gun, South Jeolla Province, and Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province, were found to have been infected with the highly pathogenic strain of H5N8.
The virus suspicions were reported last Thursday from the two farms after a large number of poultry was found dead.
The quarantine authorities immediately culled more than 150,000 fowl being raised in a 500-metre radius of the concerned sites. Additional culling of more than 100,000 fowl within a 3-kilometre radius is underway, officials said.
As of Sunday afternoon, more than 100 suspected cases have been identified in the country since the first outbreak on January 16, with 51 cases confirmed.
More than 3 million poultry have been slaughtered since then.
Meanwhile, North Korea is also stepping up efforts to defend against the spread of the virus amid concerns over the bird flu, the North Korean media said.
According to the North's state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper on Saturday, the government is taking preventive measures.
"The quarantine department has drafted a meticulous plan to protect the state from infectious diseases such as bird flu," it said.
"An emergency meeting was held and revolutionary measures are being taken to prevent the virus spreading through raising local government's responsibility and role."
Last week, the North's official Korean Central News Agency also reported that the state is monitoring the movement of migratory birds and conducting tests on farm visitors and poultry as part of efforts to stave off the outbreak.
The media, however, has not confirmed whether avian influenza has broken out in the isolated state.
According to the World Health Organization's report late last month, the bird flu has not become a threat for North Korea yet.
Observers said the virus' spread in neighboring countries such as South Korea and China led North Korea to step up its preventive efforts.