The spectre of the bird flu remains in Indonesia. Two (five-year-old girl Nad from Bekasi and a 29-year-old woman Sut from Tangerang) had died of bird flu after going to the market and falling ill with high fever, cough and respiratory difficulties.
Nad might have been infected by chickens in the market as her cat died after eating the meat. Likewise, Sut had also visited the market before dying. Indonesia's total death toll from bird flu now stands at 115. This is nearly half of the world’s fatalities from bird flu.
The fear remains that the virus has mutated to being able to transmit directly from humans to humans.
There are fears in Beijing that a large-scale outbreak of bird flu would happen in China even though the country has reported four cases in Jan 2009.
Indonesia's health minister has refused to share virus samples with the WHO for more than two years, arguing that pharmaceutical companies will use the samples to make expensive vaccines but the same policy is making it harder to see if the virus is mutating into a more dangerous form.
Meanwhile, in Indonesia, a massive fire at a fuel depot in the Indonesian capital which had been suspected as the result of a terrorist attack was confirmed by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in the negative.
A security officer died in the blaze. The reason why the fire had caused so much attention was because Islamic extremists have allegedly planned to blow up strategic fuel storage sites in the capital.
The fire began as a storage tank was being refilled and it is now speculated that it could be a technical problem, perhaps caused by an equipment malfunction. About 3,000 kilolitres (792,516 gallons) of premium fuel was lost in the blaze at a loss of 15 billion rupiah (1.35 million dollars).
AP, "Indonesia Reports Two Bird Flu Deaths" dated 21 Jan 2009 in the Wall street Journal website [downloaded on 23 Jan 2009], available at
Channelnewsasia, “Indonesian president dismisses terror fears over fuel blaze” dated 20 January 2009 in Channelnewsasia website [downloaded on 23 Jan 2009], available at http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/403569/1/.ht...
Channelnewsasia, "Two more Indonesians infected with bird flu" dated 21 January 2009 in the Channelnewsasia website [downloaded on 23 Jan 2009], available athttp://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/404012/1/.ht...