The Prime Minister has requested ministries, agencies and localities to strengthen the fight against avian influenza by cracking down on cross-border smuggling of poultry and poultry products, in the context of the rise of a wide range of new virus strains in regional countries and territories.

The PM’s urgent notice No. 133/CD-TTg issued on January 23 said there are high risks for new strains of avian flu viruses like H7N9, H10N8, H5N1, H5N2, H6N1 which are found in both humans and animals to enter Vietnam through illegal poultry and poultry products trading as well as visitors from countries with epidemics.

Therefore, to minimize the risks, relevant agencies and localities must continue to keep up efforts in implementing earlier instructions on bird flu prevention and anti-smuggling fight, the notice said.

The Ministry of Information and Communications is instructed to work with relevant ministries, agencies, local authorities and the mass media to raise public awareness of the fight, helping them understand the health risk of contraband poultry and products with ambiguous origin as well as the harm they pose to domestic farmers.

Precautionary measures to prevent virus transmission on both humans and animals will also be introduced to the public along the way.

At the same time, the PM asked the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, the Ministry of Public Health and localities, particularly border areas to keep close check of the situation at home and neighbouring countries, including cross-border travelling, live fowl markets and patients with flu symptoms.

They were also required to get ready an urgent action plan in response to dangerous flu viruses that potentially infect humans.

The World Health Organisation and regional countries reported that 147 people were infected with H7N9 virus with 47 deaths in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan last year. Meanwhile, 38 were diagnosed suffering from H5N1 virus and 24 lost their lives. On January 20, Vietnam also recorded its first death from this virus in the southern province of Binh Phuoc.

Since early 2014, neighbouring China has detected 11 cases of H7N9, including four deaths.

According to the World Veterinary Organisation, H5N1 outbreaks appeared in 13 countries last year. On December 21, 2013 , the highly-pathogenic H5N2 virus was found on domestic and wild birds in Hebei, China-VNA