Selasa, 11 Mac 2014

The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

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The Star Online: Metro: Sunday Metro

Return of H7N9 flu driving poultry dealers out of business

Posted: 11 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HANGZHOU: The handful of poultry dealers lingering at Chengbei Market have had little to do since Chinese authorities shut down their livelihoods after the H7N9 bird flu began stalking the country again, killing scores of people this year.

They spend their days counting the losses to their business, gambling at cards and cleaning the cages which once held thousands of live birds, hoping the government will allow the trade to resume.

"The chickens lay every day and I can't sell the eggs. We are losing money," said Li Guiying, local boss of the Xuancheng Shandi Poultry Co.

The H7N9 avian influenza has returned to China with a vengeance, sickening 226 people and killing 72 so far this year, as the government girds for what is likely to be a long battle to contain what one World Health Organisation (WHO) official has labelled an "epidemic".

China has responded by aggressively closing down poultry markets in locations believed to be at threat from the virus, raising an outcry from the agricultural industry and consumers with a taste for freshly slaughtered food.

But in the longer term, experts say the government needs to encourage a shift in behaviour of consumers and clean up the nation's food supply chain, which has been hit by a series of health safety scandals.

Ultimately, fears exist that the H7N9 virus could mutate and become easily passed between people, rampaging through the world's most populous country and crossing its borders to spread around the planet.

After subsiding following the first outbreak early last year, H7N9 resurfaced in the autumn. The figures for the first two months of the year exceed the tallies of 144 infections and 46 deaths for the whole of 2013.

Poultry dealers accuse the government of shutting the markets without scientific evidence and demand compensation for the birds they were forced to slaughter or sell at rock-bottom prices. — AFP

Vietnam expands search Mission to find missing jet

Posted: 11 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

HANOI: Massive search for the missing Malaysian plane will be expanded to scour mountainous and forest areas, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) quoted Deputy Chief of the General Staff of the Vietnam People's Army, Lt Gen Vo Van Tuan as saying.

"We have informed units and localities on land, including Military Zones 5, 7 and 9, and localities in the western, southeastern and central regions to deploy forces to seek the plane," Tuan said yesterday while instructing the operation.

Units managing border areas were requested to increase coordination with Lao and Cambodian forces in searching border areas in their territories, he said.

Two hotlines were also set up at the command office in Phu Quoc Island, southern Kien Giang province to promptly provide information relating to the search.

Vietnamese Deputy Minister of Transport Pham Quy Tieu told a press conference on Phu Quoc the same day that Vietnamese forces will continue the operation on a wider area.

Accordingly, the search will be expanded to the east of the initially suspected area, 277km from Tho Chu Island in Kien Giang province, and the south and west of Con Dao Island, 185km off the coast of the southern province of Ba Ria-Vung Tau.

Tieu urged the deployment of aircraft and naval ships for the operation, affirming that Vietnam will do its utmost to seek the missing airplane.

He also asked the Kien Giang province to continue to urge local fishermen for support and be prepared if there were any objects that appear to be from the plane are found.

Meanwhile, Phu Quoc Inter-national Airport was requested to be prepared for rescue work, if necessary.

The naval ship HQ888 has examined waters off southern Ba Ria Vung Tau province without finding any fragments spotted by a Hong Kong commercial aircraft on Monday, according to the National Committee for Search and Rescue.

The Boeing 777-200 plane operated by Malaysia Airlines left Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) for Beijing at 12.41am on Saturday, and lost contact with authorities at around 1.30am the same day.

The aircraft was carrying 227 passengers and 12 crew members. — Bernama

Faith healer jailed for molesting boy

Posted: 11 Mar 2014 09:00 AM PDT

A FAITH healer who admitted molesting a 13-year-old boy in his office was jailed for two years.

Mohd Noor Hamid, 65, was hired by the youngster's parents to provide spiritual treatment for their son.

On Aug 21 last year, his mother and elder sister took him to see Mohd Noor to celebrate his birthday.

The pair were meant to go for a meal together at a nearby restaurant. But instead, they stayed alone in his office at Rawatan Ruqyah Syariah on Joo Chiat Road. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network


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