The cross-border import of poultry in all forms will be banned in the context of rising threat of avian influenza to northern border provinces following the detection of three cases of H7N9 bird flu infection in China’s Guangxi province.

At an emergency meeting on February 13 hosted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD), Pham Van Dong, head of MARD’s Animal Health Department, said while no H7N9 infection has been detected so far in the country, the risk of transmission across the border is high.

The official stressed that the deadly H7N9 virus is easily transmitted from fowls to humans and was deadly. He added that it is usually detected in poultry trading areas with poor hygiene and insufficient disinfecting procedures.

The ministry will coordinate with relevant departments of the trade and defence ministries and the police to try and prevent the virus entering the country.

Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat has asked all localities to step up preventative measures and to increase the awareness of residents, especially those in the northern border area.

Two H5N1 deaths were reported in January, but no H7N9 cases have come to light so far, according to the Health Ministry.

Meanwhile, a patient suspected of contracting H5N1 has been discharged from hospital after four days under special care at the provincial Kon Tum General Hospital. Luong Thi Hien, a 37-year-old veterinarian, who is eight-week pregnant, was hospitalized due to a high fever (38.5 degree C) after inspecting a new H5N1 outbreak on February 9th. However, later tests showed she only had the seasonal influenza (H3N2). She was allowed to go home on February 13.-VNA