Jan 17, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Officials in Iran have confirmed their country’s first H5N1 avian influenza outbreak in domestic birds, while authorities in eastern India are working on a massive poultry cull amid worries about possible new H5N1 outbreaks.A report that Iran filed with the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) yesterday says the outbreak occurred in Mazandaran, a northern province that fronts on the Caspian Sea. Authorities destroyed a flock of 475 surviving free-range chickens after 14 chickens died in an outbreak that began Dec 10, the report says.The outbreak was detected through Iran’s passive surveillance program for avian flu, officials reported. Samples from the birds first tested positive in the Iran Veterinary Organization’s central laboratory in December, and an OIE reference lab in Padova, Italy, confirmed the findings on Jan 8. The source of the outbreak is under investigation, the report says.Iran’s only previous reported outbreak of H5N1 in birds occurred in February 2006 and killed 153 wild swans in Gilan province, which borders Mazandaran on the west, according to OIE records. The country has reported no human cases.In India, meanwhile, an official in West Bengal state voiced concern that the virus may have spread to several other villages near one where a poultry outbreak was confirmed on Jan 15, according to an Agence France-Presse (AFP) report published today.”Reports have reached [us] that hens have started dropping dead in several villages surrounding Margram,” Anisur Rahaman, the state’s animal resources minster, told AFP. “We are worried over the situation. We have sought more help from the federal government.”In a Jan 15 report to the OIE, Indian officials said the virus had killed more than 35,000 chickens on “small and marginal farms” in three villages in Birbhum district and 261 birds in a separate outbreak in Dinajpur district. Both districts are in West Bengal. The report said control measures would include destroying all poultry within about 5 kilometers of the outbreak sites. News reports have said that about 400,000 birds would be destroyed.An Associated Press (AP) report today quoted Rahaman as saying that hundreds of bird deaths were reported on four new districts of West Bengal yesterday. But rather than avian flu, he said the signs in those cases suggested a virus locally known as Ranikhet, which affects all bird species but not humans.The AP story put the number of birds killed by the H5N1 virus in Birbhum and Dinajpur districts at 54,000.The World Health Organization (WHO) expressed concern about the Indian outbreaks today, according to several news reports. “More serious risk factors are associated with this current outbreak than previously encountered, including that the affected areas are more widespread and because of proximity to extended border areas,” the WHO was quoted as saying. The statement was carried by AFP and by The Statesman, a West Bengal newspaper, among other reports, but it was unclear which WHO official or office issued it.Rahaman said about 8,000 birds were killed yesterday, the first day of culling, but officials were facing some resistance from bird owners, according to the AFP story.West Bengal borders Bangladesh, which also has had recent avian flu outbreaks. A Reuters report today said poultry culling in Bangladesh was going smoothly after the detection of the virus in three more districts. Authorities reported Jan 13 that avian flu had killed 500 chickens in the northeastern district of Moulivabazar.In other developments, United Kingdom officials reported today that the H5N1 virus has been found in another mute swan from the same area where three other swans recently tested positive. The area is a swan sanctuary in Dorset on England’s southwest coast. The latest infected bird was collected on Jan 11.”There is currently no evidence to suggest widespread disease in the wild bird population, but enhanced surveillance is taking place and poultry keepers in the area are reminded to remain vigilant and report any signs of disease immediately,” the UK Department of Environment, Food, and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) said in a statement about the new case. “There is no evidence of disease in domestic birds.”See also: OIE reports on Iranian and Indian outbreaksJan 16 DEFRA statement
Manchester City are to design a new club crest following a consultation with their fans. City have had three major badges since the 1930s and adopted the current design in 1997. The existing crest is in the shape of an eagle, but the new design – which the club said would be unveiled in the coming weeks – will revert to the round shape of its two predecessors. New York City FC and Melbourne City – both part of the City Football Group along with Manchester City – have round badges with similar lettering around distinctive logos in the centre. Kevin Parker, general secretary of the Manchester City FC Supporters Club, said on the club’s website: “I am delighted that the club consulted with the fans about our most important symbol. It is impressive that they canvassed our opinions on this matter and that they want to reflect our feedback in the ultimate design. “On a personal note, while the Eagle badge will rightly live on in fans’ hearts, minds and on football kits for all that it has come to symbolise over the years, I am pleased that we will once again see the round design which has twice featured in our past badges.” Press Association
Dubbed “not people focused”By Samuel SukhnandanWhile Budget 2018 has been touted the largest of the budgets to ever be presented by the coalition Government since it assumed office in 2015, outspoken economist Ramon Gaskin believes that it is not “people focused” as it offers nothing for the ordinary Guyanese who continue to struggle daily to make ends meet.Economist Ramon GaskinGaskin, who provided his views on the Budget, said that the document contained many words which had little meaning. According to him, too much focus was also placed on “World Bank economics” and the technical jargon being used in several instances too had no meaning for the ordinary Guyanese.The Russia-trained economist noted that the Budget, and by extension Finance Minister Winston Jordan, failed to include some important issues particularly as it relates to job creation and unemployment.“He didn’t speak about a lot of issues, including the rate of poverty in Guyana. He didn’t speak about the dropout rate in the school system and the migration rate of Guyanese. The Minister did not speak about the malnutrition rate in Guyana. What about unemployment?” he questioned.Other issues that were not addressed in Budget 2018 include: maternal mortality, infant mortality, crime rate, crime population growth rate, tax evasion rate, and excessive rate of borrowing.“Winston Jordan doesn’t know what he is doing. He is entirely incompetent as a minister and it is not focused on the needs of this country and the needs of the communities. He doesn’t focus on poverty, the education system and the dropout rate in the school system,” Gaskin asserted.Another point raised by Gaskin is the fact that $20 billion is being spent on the salaries for the Joint Services. According to him, there has also been a 60 per cent increase in the salaries for Police over three years.He said if the Government had placed more emphasis on creating jobs and addressing issues such as poverty, then there would not be a need for such a high bill and there would have been a reduction in crime.Gaskin said, “What we need is to get jobs for these young people. Look at the dropout rate and they are turning to crime. That is why the Police payroll is so many billions. You have to keep hiring Police all the time and build new prisons, because they not dealing with job creation and pumping in the education system to keep people in school. Parents can’t keep them there either because of poverty.”He said if the Minister was to go into any community across Guyana and tell the ordinary people that Guyana had a three per cent growth rate, that would mean nothing to them. “All of these things, they will laugh at you. And that’s because they are struggling to make ends meet, to pay light bill, phone bill, water bill and you telling me all these things. All of these things mean nothing to ordinary people.”Several Private Sector bodies have also come out to state their disappointment with Budget 2018 particularly, as it relates to job-creating investments or facilitation of job-creating investments.Budget 2018 contained very few benefits, one of which was the increase in public assistance to $8000, which represents an increase of approximately 36 per cent over the period of two and a half years.Teachers who work in interior locations will also benefit from the new measures to be implemented for Budget 2018, including an 80 per cent increase in remote area incentives.In an effort to move and retain teachers in far-flung areas of Guyana, the Finance Minister said the remote area incentive would be increased from $5000 to $7000 and from $9000 to $12,000.Meanwhile, companies and individuals will be granted amnesty to file outstanding tax returns and pay outstanding taxes in 2018. Government on November 27 tabled in the National Assembly the Budget to the tune of $267.1 billion.In presenting the Budget themed “The Journey to the Good Life Continues”, Minister Jordan also disclosed that the economy was expected to grow by 2.9 per cent, failing to meet the revised growth projection of 3.1 per cent for 2017.He reminded that the initial projected growth of the economy was 3.8 per cent, but this was revised by midyear to 3.1 per cent after the economy only grew by 2.2 per cent in July of this year.