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APEC to conduct mock bird flu exercise

In the event of an influenza pandemic set into action by mutations of the virus into a human flu strain, how equipped are we to handle// a mega crisis, and what plan of action can we rely on to control the spread? To test the responses to an epidemic, eight Asia Pacific countries are teaming up next month to roll out a mock drill that will gauge the effectiveness of a global response to a pandemic.

Australia and Singapore will be co-coordinating the exercise, due to be held on June 7th and 8th. This idea was conceived and communicated during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting held amongst highly placed officials. The plan will cover issues pertaining to the monitoring and curtailing of bird flu in domestic poultry, and will also involve information exchange amongst the nations. This exercise will involve all 21 APEC member countries, who have also given their consent to participate. Eight countries have confirmed participation amongst the 21.

Neil Head, director of Emergency Management Australia said "You definitely won't see people running around in masks. It's important in this first step of the exercise that we do something that involves people sitting at their own desks, which is where they would normally be, should there be a crisis they have to respond to."

John Lange, the United States' special representative for avian influenza said, “The key to this effort is coordination. Influenza does not know borders. We have to work together on this."


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