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One Flu Over the Cuckoo's Nest

Bali Officials Increasingly Concerned Over Threat of H5N1 Virus.

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With Indonesia now holding the unenviable distinction of the highest number of deaths attributed to Avian Influenza or, as it is more commonly known, bird flu, the Chairman of the Bali Tourism Board (BTB), Bagus Sudibya commented to the local press on February 2, 2007, that the much-feared disease has now become a global problem with infections among poultry populations now found in almost every corner of the world.

"What we must not do is panic," cautioned Sudibya, urging all elements of Balinese society to cooperate closely with the various government agencies working to minimize the risk of the disease to Bali's residents and visitors. Sudibya also urged local leaders and politician not to try to make political capital out of the bird flu crisis, leaving experts in the field to make carefully formulated statements and announcements.

Asked is he was worried by the possible threat of bird flu to Bali's tourism industry, Sudibya told Bisnis Bali that while he was concerned, the main point remains Bali's ability to communicate the genuine situation and the preventative steps being taken to the people of the Island and the outside world. Sudibya went on to ask: "Japan Ė a country with sophisticated technology and preventative systems has not escaped the bird flu. Why is it that arrivals to Japan remain unaffected?"

The answer, explained Sudibya, is found in the Japanese government's serious approach to the bird flu problem and the ability of its PR machine to communicate this fact to the world.

Sudibya told the press that the limited size of the island of Bali and the small number of gateways will assist control measures now being taken, including bio-security steps being introduced among those who keep birds.

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