The European Union will give 30 million (US$35.7 million) to help Asia fight bird flu, its health commissioner said Monday. Health Commissioner Markos Kyprianou is in Vietnam as part of a 10-day tour through Southeast Asia to discuss efforts to contain the deadly strain of bird flu that has recently spread from Asia to Europe. "The EU should have reacted more quickly to help Southeast Asia to tackle the problem," Kyprianou said during talks in Hanoi with Vietnamese Agriculture Minister Cao Duc Phat. "It's better late than never. ... The EU is interested in cooperating with Asia to solve the problem."
Kyprianou, who arrived in Vietnam on Sunday for a three-day visit, plans to discuss measures being taken by each country to contain the spread of the H5N1 strain of bird flu. He also is to visit Thailand, Cambodia and Indonesia.
Since late 2003, bird flu has ravaged poultry stocks across Asia and jumped from birds to humans. At least 62 people have died. Most of the human deaths have been traced to close contact with infected birds, but experts fear the virus could mutate into a form easily passed among humans and possibly spark a global pandemic.
The H5N1 strain has recently been discovered in Turkey, Romania and Russia, reports the AP. I.L.