The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has been requested to make weekly reports to the Prime Minister on the spread of bird flu.

With the nation on alert for bird flu, the Department of Animal Health has also been asked to provide hourly updates.

Deputy Prime Minister Hoang Trung Hai issued the order at an online meeting on February 18 with ministries, sectors and localities, where bird flu prevention and control systems were discussed.

"As bird flu has reached danger alert status and is threatening the community's safety, all ministries, sectors and localities must focus on measures to control the disease's outbreak, prevent it from taking root locally and stamp it out in case of an epidemic," Hai said.

The Deputy PM noted that the disease was spreading and was not likely to disappear quickly. He asked all localities to issue an action plan and to implement it while closely monitoring the situation and enhancing the control and management of the poultry trade across the border.

Police, military and market watch forces must keep a close check on poultry transport and must ensure that poultry markets are sterilised and disinfected regularly.

A month-long campaign of hygiene, sterilisation and disinfection will be launched this on February 22.

Hai also requested localities not to deliberately hide evidence of an epidemic and encouraged poultry raisers to report any breakout of the disease.

Director of the Department of Animal Health Pham Van Dong claimed that 11 provinces had reported 24 outbreaks, as of February 18, with more than 50,000 infected poultry being killed nationwide.

"However, only five provinces have announced an outbreak," he noted, adding that the remainder had reported outbreaks only to his department.

Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat, who is also the head of the National Steering Committee on Bird Flu Control and Prevention, stated that the reports sent to the ministry indicated a daily rise in the number of infected poultry, proving that the disease was spreading quickly.

"Currently, six out of 100 ducks have tested positive for the bird flu virus, and 61 out of 100 markets have reported being infected with bird flu," he said.

Phat urged localities to be actively involved in prevention efforts and to either use the back-up budget for these efforts or request support from the ministry.

"We still have 35 million doses of the vaccine, but localities must be careful about using them when the disease has still not reached its peak," he remarked, adding that the ministry was also seeking support from international organisations.-VNA