Indonesia Confirms New Bird Flu Deaths

Thai workers monitor the process at the production line at the Charoen Pokphand Foods (CPF) processing plant in Saraburi, 110 kilometers north of Bangkok (AFP Photo)

Indonesia said Tuesday that two teenagers have been confirmed as its 43rd and 44th bird flu deaths, making the country the world's hardest hit by human fatalities from the deadly virus.

"Samples from both of them have been confirmed as positive by both a health ministry laboratory and by the US NAMRU (Naval Medical Research Unit) laboratory," Runizar Ruzin, from the health ministry's bird flu center, told AFP.

A 16-year-old boy died Monday night and a 16-year-old girl died Tuesday, Rizin said.

Indonesia's health ministry changed its method for confirming a bird flu death to the World Health Organisation last week.

Previously samples were considered positive if tested at a WHO-affiliated laboratory, usually in Hong Kong, but if two national laboratories confirm H5N1, it is now reported to the UN's health agency as a death.

The US lab is affiliated to the US Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous nation, has been accused of acting too slowly to curb the spread of H5N1 and criticised for failing to conduct mass slaughters of sick birds, as recommended by the United Nations.

The government, arguing it is faced with financial constraints, has so far opted to vaccinate poultry instead.

Source: AFP

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