Deputy Prime Minister Chaturon Chaisang bravely reminded the public of the scourge of bird flu by launching an emergency plan on Monday to prepare for possible mutation of the potentially deadly virus into new, more dangerous strains of human influenza that could threaten millions around the world.
Apparently learning from what has just happened in the Andaman coastal provinces in the South – where thousands of locals and tourists lost their lives perhaps needlessly because a 1998 warning by a former Meteorological Department chief went unheeded – Chaturon has ordered the maintenance of a high level of preparedness.
In the absence of serious outbreaks of avian flu at poultry farms and a lack of evidence that cross-species mutation has taken place, Chaturon may well be accused by some as an alarmist creating unnecessary panic.
But constant vigilance at the top and the presence of standing orders for livestock and public health officials on the ground to deal with bird-flu outbreaks in a decisive and timely manner, cannot really be a bad thing when dealing with a problem of this magnitude.
The deputy premier is surely right when he says it is better to be safe than sorry.
Published on January 12, 2005