Indonesia's President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has specifically instructed governors in every province of the nation to take concrete steps to prevent the spread of bird flu or H5N1 avian flu - a lethal virus that has reportedly already claimed four lives in Indonesia and may have caused the illness in 28 others. "Measures will be taken by the provincial governments to avoid the spread of the virus," the President told a press briefing on Friday, September 23, 2005, adding, "the government has taken a decision to conduct stamping out in heavily (affected areas)."
Limited Area Affected
Although the World Health Organization (WHO) is cautioning Indonesia to expect more confirmed cases of the potentially fatal disease, the WHO has confirmed that the disease is currently restricted to a 70 kilometer radius around the capital of Jakarta.
Following the discovery of the disease among some captive birds at Jakartaís Ragunan Zoo, the Government took the dramatic step of closing the zoo for 21 days and ordering that financial assistance be given to farmers who poultry stocks are culled as a precautionary step.
In order to prevent the spread of the disease among the populace, the government is providing free medical care for anyone showing symptoms consistence with H5N1 Avian Flu.
President Urges Calm
President Yudhoyono has called on friendly governments and the press not to exaggerate the cases found in Indonesia and to tell the world of the strong preventative steps being taken by his government.
Health experts, while urging caution and preventative steps, suggest there is little evidence to support proof of human-to-human contagion at this stage, suggesting that "very, very close contact" between humans is needed to facilitate human contagion.
Indonesia's Minister of Health, Siti Sufari Fadilah, has made available 10,000 tablet of Tamiflu, a medicine proven effective in treating bird flu in humans, in keeping with recommendations of the World Health Organization.
Bird flu has killed 64 people in four Asian countries since it was detected in 2003.
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