Jun 24, 2005 (CIDRAP News) – As poultry were being culled in China and Vietnam to prevent further spread of avian influenza outbreaks this week, international experts were visiting both countries to better understand how the H5N1 virus is behaving.Ducks in central Vietnam were being culled after authorities discovered that one-fifth of the waterfowl in Quang Tri province carry the H5N1 virus, China’s Xinhau news service reported today, basing the story on a Vietnamese newspaper, Saigon Liberation. More than 23,000 birds have already been culled in 38 infected flocks, with another 144 flocks untested, Xinhua reported.As many as 120,000 to 150,000 birds may be culled, according to a report today by the Vietnamese news service Thanh Nien News, which also cited the Saigon Liberation as its source.In response to the outbreaks, the Agriculture and Rural Development Ministry extended an existing ban on egg incubation for breeding poultry and building new waterfowl or quail flocks through February 2006, according to the Vietnam News Service (VNS). In addition, the country’s state bank has asked that commercial banks refuse loans to farmers and businesses that produce breeding poultry and waterfowl, VNS reported today.This is the second outbreak in Vietnamese poultry in about a week. Prior to that, the country had been free of bird outbreaks since April, Xinhua reported. However, human cases of H5N1 infection have continued without a major break since mid-December 2004.Possible and confirmed human H5N1 infections in Vietnam are the focus of intense study by a visiting team of experts from Britain, Hong Kong, Japan, and the United States, according to a Canadian Press (CP) report today. The team of about half a dozen virologists and epidemiologists is investigating whether the H5N1 virus has changed in ways that make a flu pandemic more likely.The team is working in Vietnam at the government’s request, Maria Cheng, a World Health Organization (WHO) spokeswoman, told the CP.Their tasks include studying clusters of cases to determine the extent of human-to-human transmission and analyzing tests on hundreds of stored human blood samples that may indicate scores of undetected human H5N1 infections, the CP reported.Those findings are questionable because they relied on the Western blot test, which is not the gold standard for flu testing, the CP story said.Authorities are negotiating to transfer the blood samples to a site where appropriate tests can be performed—a lab with the biosafety rating to conduct neutralization assays considered the gold standard for flu testing, the CP reported.In China, international experts sent by the WHO and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) were studying the H5N1 outbreak in Qinghai province this week and recently received approval to do the same in neighboring Xinjiang province, the International Herald Tribune reported yesterday.China has had three avian outbreaks of H5N1 in recent weeks, including one this week that involved the deaths of 180 ducks and geese, according to its reports to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE). In all, at least 1,490 birds were culled, according to a Jun 21 story by Agence France-Presse (AFP).Authorities are also pressuring China for details of farmers’ reported use of the human antiviral drug amantadine to control and prevent poultry outbreaks of H5N1. Scrutiny has extended to questions over whether China has used oseltamivir, one of a newer class of human antiviral drugs, on poultry, the CP reported on Jun 23.The WHO asked China to investigate whether farmers have used oseltamivir in poultry, and the FAO has urged China to prevent such use, the CP story said. Several countries are stockpiling oseltamivir for use in the event of a flu pandemic. Current strains of H5N1 are resistant to amantadine, but it could also be useful in a pandemic, depending on the nature of the pandemic virus, experts say.A spokesman for the company that makes oseltamivir, Roche, said the company doesn’t sell the product to agro-chemical businesses, the CP story said.The report quoted WHO spokesman Dick Thompson as saying, “It’s clear to us that the [Chinese] Ministry of Health shares our concerns about this and they understand the importance of . . . the possible use of this antiviral in agriculture, that it might force or speed [development of] a resistant strain.”
“A broader investment universe will thus not automatically mean that the Bank actually invests the fund in unlisted equity,” they said.“If the Ministry does permit unlisted equity investments, the Bank will approach investment opportunities and build expertise gradually, invest via and alongside others in a responsible manner that safeguards the fund’s ownership interests, and share relevant information with the public,” the men wrote.They said the detailed investment strategy for private equity would be set by Norges Bank’s executive board later on, based on more analysis.NBIM agreed with the ministry’s idea that the bank should have responsibility for deciding how much should be invested in private equity, as was the case with the fund’s allocation to unlisted real estate.Real estate was removed from the GPFG’s benchmark index from 1 January 2017, but the asset class remains part of the investment universe, effectively allowing NBIM to decide on the allocation up to a stipulated upper limit.NBIM said the ministry could set an upper limit for private equity too, and suggested this could be about 4% of the fund, or 6% of its equity portfolio.This was the allocation indicated if the fund’s stake in the private equity sector were to equate to its average stake in companies included in the benchmark for equity, it reasoned in the letter.“The Ministry could also choose to set a lower limit,” Olsen and Slyngstad added.The pair said it would “take a long time to build up a portfolio”.NBIM noted in its letter that other SWFs had allocated 8.5% of their capital on average to unlisted equity at the end of 2016, up from around 4% in 2000.Back in August, the ministry appointed two expert groups to review aspects of how the GPFG invests, including one to assess whether it should be allowed to invest in unlisted equities, and the other to analyse the performance of its active management. The manager of Norway’s giant sovereign wealth fund is recommending the government allows the fund to extend its investment universe to include unlisted equities.In a letter to the Norwegian Finance Ministry, the leaders of Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM) suggested a cap of 4% on any allocation to private equity. This could amount to as much as €35bn based on the Government Pension Fund Global’s (GPFG) NOK8.5trn (€881bn) investment portfolio.The letter – signed by Øystein Olsen, chairman of the central bank Norges Bank, and Yngve Slyngstad, NBIM’s chief executive – was in response to a request from the ministry made at the end of June for the manager’s opinion on whether the investment universe for the fund should be expanded to include investments in unlisted equity.The pair emphasised that NBIM would only make investments if individual deals would help boost the fund’s overall risk-return profile.
The matches came thick and fast over the festive period, but the niggling strain would not go away. The 22-year-old has been passed fit for Sunday’s game at Swansea though after he came through a 45-minute run-out in the Under-21s on Tuesday. Townsend scored one goal and set up two more in a 4-1 win over Newcastle, and Sherwood was happy with the wide man’s contribution. “Andros had a quiet one on Tuesday,” Sherwood said with an ironic grin. “We all know what he can do. He gives us a different dimension. “He had a flying start to the season and we are happy to have him back in the squad.” Sherwood has had to deploy Christian Eriksen on the left wing in recent weeks because the natural replacements for Townsend – Erik Lamela and Gylfi Sigurdsson – have been struggling with injury. Townsend’s return should therefore give Spurs the natural width in midfield which is key to Sherwood’s attacking philosophy. Injury has decimated the Tottenham squad in recent weeks. As many as 10 first-team players have been out at one time during the festive period. Of all the injuries suffered, the most key have been to Jan Vertonghen and Younes Kaboul. The absence of the tall, quick and powerful centre-backs has meant that Michael Dawson and Vlad Chiriches have started the last six games at centre-back. At first sight the two might not seem a natural pairing, but they have formed a decent partnership, conceding six goals. “We picked up a lot of injuries in the centre-back position, which was a problem for us but Chiriches and Dawson have been fantastic over that Christmas period,” Sherwood said. “We’ve managed to get positive results with basically just those two to choose from.” In reality Sherwood has Hugo Lloris to thank for the team’s decent defensive record of late. The Frenchman started to lose form towards the end of Andre Villas-Boas’ reign, but he has been back to his best. Lloris’ saves have helped Tottenham move to within two points of the top four, but the goalkeeper knows there is still much work to do if the north London club are to qualify for the Champions League. “Our hopes for the season are still alive because we’re getting points and we are closer to the top four, so we are still in a good way,” Lloris told Spurs TV. “But we have to be careful and if we want to finish where we want to be, we have to do more.” Swansea’s own injury problems mean they have dropped down the table of late, with Michael Laudrup’s men without a win in their last seven. Swansea’s home record is the joint-worst in the division, but Lloris has told his team-mates they cannot afford to underestimate the opposition. He said: “It’s always difficult to play against Swansea and we know they’re capable of getting some good results against big teams. “They play some really good football and if we are not focussed on the game and if we don’t play at 100 per cent, it will be very difficult.” Press Association Sherwood kept a watchful eye over Townsend’s impressive development during his time with the youth squads, but the Spurs boss has been unable to call upon the winger since he was named head coach. Townsend suffered a hamstring injury following Sherwood’s first game as interim boss – the Capital One Cup defeat to West Ham – and he has found the comeback trail hard to negotiate. Tottenham manager Tim Sherwood cannot wait to unleash Andros Townsend on terrified defenders once again.
At least five people are dead and several injured and missing after the volcano blew its top.A tour group from a cruise ship was on White Island earlier today when the blast occurred, sending a massive cloud of ash and steam into the air.It’s the first time the volcano, about 30 miles off the northeast New Zealand coast, has erupted since 2001. New Zealand’s “angriest volcano” suddenly erupted with tourists nearby earlier today.The surprise eruption occurred just after 2 p.m. on White Island and spewed ash 12,000 feet into the air.