More than 50 health and government officials from the Asia-Pacific
region are meeting today and tomorrow in Singapore to discuss strategies for
strengthening the region's response to any bird flu pandemic.
"The exercise achieved its purpose of highlighting the need for improved
communications to handle these sorts of emergencies," Helena Studdert of the
Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
"The next step is for the Singapore workshop to discuss the report, decide
how to move forward and make a series of recommendations to ministers," she
The H5N1 bird
virus has killed 138 people since late 2003, mostly in Asia.
Health experts fear it could mutate into a form that is transmitted more
easily between humans, marking the first stage of a global flu pandemic that
could kill millions.
APEC groups Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia,
Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, the
Philippines, Singapore, Russia, Taiwan, Thailand, the United States and