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Constant vigilance needed in bird flu fight, says WHOPosted on 14/09/2007

The World Health Organisation (WHO) has emphasised that 'constant vigilance' is still needed in the fight against bird flu.

Shigeru Omi, regional director of the WHO in South Korea, said that if another outbreak were to occur, 'rapid containment would be our highest priority'.

He explained that this would require the massive deployment of personal protection equipment, antiviral drugs and other supplies.

Takeshi Kasai, WHO regional adviser for communicable disease surveillance and response, suggested that swift measures and immediate access to personal protection equipment may be crucial in the event that the virus becomes transmissible between humans.

He said: 'Sadly, the H5 virus is mutating and changing very rapidly. Usually the bird flu virus changes slowly but this one changes very, very fast.

'I'm sure if people are ready, its impact would be low, but if they are not, there would be big disasters.'

A stockpile of personal protection equipment and other crucial supplies was established in Singapore in April, with the support of Japan and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations.

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