Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung has ordered authorities to tighten controls in order to curb bird flu, which is threatening to spread into an epidemic in Vietnam, the Vietnam News Agency reported Tuesday.
In his Monday letter, Dung asked all relevant agencies in provinces and cities to more vigilantly supervise the inspection of fowl in order to detect the disease as early as possible.
Following detection, Dung ordered the Ministry of Health to cooperate with the National Steering Committee for Human Influenza Pandemic Prevention and Control to handle the urgent situation, the news agency quoted the order as saying.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Health was asked to take all necessary measures to halt the spread of bird flu, including preparing sufficient equipment and medicine.
The PM also ordered the Ministry of Information and Communications to improve programs that increase the public's awareness of how to avoid contracting avian flu (A/H5N1), such as not killing sick fowl for food or transporting them.
According to the latest report by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, since the beginning of this year, bird flu has recurred in 11 provinces and cities including the central provinces of Quang Tri and Quang Ngai, the Mekong Delta provinces of Kien Giang and Soc Trang, and the northern city of Hai Phong.
The two first H5N1 fatalities of this year have also been reported in Kien Giang and Soc Trang.
Since 2003, bird flu outbreaks have killed and led to the forced culling of tens of millions of fowl in Vietnam, which is among the countries most affected by H5N1.
According to a World Bank report from October last year, 119 human cases of the disease were confirmed in Vietnam as of March 2011, of which 59 were fatal.