Vietnam reports another human bird flu case

Vietnam reported another human bird flu case Thursday, while tour operators were ordered to keep foreigners away from areas infected by the disease. A 15-year-old boy from northern port city of Haiphong is the latest person to test positive for the deadly H5N1 strain of the virus, the Ministry of Health said on its Web site.

The boy remains hospitalized but was expected to fully recover, said Nguyen Van Binh, deputy director of the Ministry of Health's Preventive Medicine Department.

As the communist country tightens its vigilance against the disease, the Tourism Administration of Vietnam ordered all tour operators not to take foreigners near areas where bird flu outbreaks have been reported, said Vu The Binh, director of the central Tourism Department.

"Our policy is to ensure absolute safety for foreign tourists," he said "We cannot tolerate having foreign tourists infected with bird flu in Vietnam."

Most major hotels and restaurants have also stopped serving poultry. However, tourism authorities have not banned such sales. Officials have instead advised venues to serve only poultry products approved by animal health authorities, Binh said.

He said bird flu has not yet had any impact on the country's tourism industry with 3 million foreign arrivals so far this year as of Nov. 11. The number is expected to reach 3.4 million by the end of this year, he added. Last year, 2.9 million foreign arrivals were logged.

Bird flu outbreaks have been reported in 18 provinces in Vietnam since early October, killing or forcing the slaughter of more than 1 million birds, according to the Department of Animal Health.

At least 67 human deaths have been confirmed in Asia since bird flu began ravaging poultry stocks in 2003. The bulk of those deaths have occurred in Vietnam, reports the AP. I.L.

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