Chinese minister refutes reports on new H5N1 strain[Special Report]
www.chinaview.cn 2006-11-10 15:54:09

    Special report: Global fight against bird flu

  ;  GENEVA, Nov. 9 (Xinhua) -- China's Minister of Health Gao Qiang on Thursday refuted a report by the U.S. National Academy of Sciences that a new strain of the H5N1 bird flu virus has emerged in southern China.

    Researchers from Hong Kong and the United States reported in a recent issue of Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences that a new strain of H5N1 called the "Fujian-like virus," first isolated in the southern Chinese province of Fujian in 2005, has become prevalent in China's Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, Laos, Malaysia, and Thailand.

    At a press conference in Geneva, Gao rejected the report, saying its data are false and its claims "lack scientific proof."

    He said profound research and analysis by Chinese experts showed that the report's conclusions were not in conformity with the reality of the avian flu situation in China.

    "The so-called 'Fujian-like virus' is not a new variant of the H5N1 virus," he said. "Gene sequence analysis of the virus shows that it shares high conformity with the H5N1 virus that was isolated in Hunan Province when bird flu broke out in early 2004."

    There has been no avian flu outbreak in Fujian since 2004, so it would have been impossible to isolate a so-called "Fujian-like" virus in the province in 2005, Gao told reporters.

    He added that up to now there have been no radical mutation of the H5N1 virus in China that infected humans, and the danger of serious human-to-human infection did not exist.

    The minister also rejected accusations that China is not willing to share avian flu virus samples with the World Health Organization (WHO). He said that those who made the accusations are irresponsible.

    Gao also said that since 2004 China has provided a number of virus samples to the UN agency at its request, and the two sides actually have reached an agreement on sample sharing in 2005.

    He added that he has issued a formal invitation to the WHO, asking the organization to send experts to China to see judge the real situation.

    "These experts can go to any place in China, and we hope they can evaluate China's avian flu control situation in a scientific and technical way."

    Gao noted that the Chinese government is open, transparent, objective and responsible in the prevention and control of bird flu. A cooperation mechanism of bird flu prevention has been established among the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Macao.

    He added that an emergency response drill would be carried out soon, which would be an important step to facilitate the operation of the emergency response mechanism.

    The minister reaffirmed that the Chinese mainland's experts are encouraged to have close cooperation with their counterparts from Taiwan, who are also welcomed to conduct reviews in the mainland.

    Gao also highly praised the morality, capability and professionalism of Dr. Margaret Chan, the former Hong Kong health chief who was formally elected as the new director-general of WHO on Thursday.

    He said that the Chinese government would fully support her work in the WHO so that she could wholeheartedly carry out her responsibility and serve the health cause of the world.

Related:

    WHO apologizes to China for misusing bird flu samples

    BEIJING, Nov. 10 (Xinhua) -- The World Heath Organization (WHO) has apologized to the Chinese government after bird flu samples provided by China were misused by foreign research institutions, China's chief veterinarian Jia Youling revealed here Friday. Full story

Editor: Lin Li
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