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Sunday, December 7, 1997 Published at 15:10 GMT

World: Monitoring

Hong Kong health official says no need to panic over 'bird flu'
image: [ The new flu strain has killed thousands of chickens in Hong Kong ]
The new flu strain has killed thousands of chickens in Hong Kong

A Hong Kong health official has told a news conference there is no need to panic over the recent cases of suspected bird flu, Hong Kong radio reported.

It quoted Health Department Deputy Director Paul Saw as saying that the available evidence did not suggest that the disease was widespread.

However, he said the four known cases did not share a common source and the virus had not been transmitted from one victim to another.

More work was needed to investigate whether human to human contact had caused these outbreaks, he said.

US experts investigate

Two American experts on infectious diseases have arrived in Hong Kong to investigate the suspected outbreak of bird flu, Hong Kong radio said in an earlier report.

The experts, from the Atlanta-based US Centre for Disease Control, attended an emergency meeting at the Hong Kong Department of Health on Sunday held to determine the implications of the latest suspected cases, the radio said.

Four people are already believed to have contracted the disease, two of whom have died.

A 13-year-old girl is in a critical condition in hospital.

The outbreak was "attracting international concern because of the possibility that the virus could spread and affect millions of people," the radio said.

The Hong Kong Hospital Authority was taking special measures at the two hospitals where the latest cases were reported, with doctors monitoring the condition of staff and patients who may have come into contact with the victims, the radio added.

BBC Monitoring (, based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.

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