Cablegate: Avian Flu: Czechs Don't Have Their Ducks in a Row

Published: Wed 26 Oct 2005 02:42 PM
This record is a partial extract of the original cable. The full text of the original cable is not available.
E.O. 12958: N/A
1. (SBU) Summary: There is no evidence of Avian Flu in the
Czech Republic. However, due to a lack of political
leadership and a delayed reaction to the potential pandemic,
the government only has sufficient medical supplies and
facilities to deal with a mild outbreak. A larger outbreak
would overwhelm the resources and abilities of the fractious
Ministry of Health and Czech health care providers. Post is
prepared to care for all American employees, American
dependents, and locally hired staff. Post is looking into
the possibility of procuring additional Tamiflu for family
members of locally hired employees. Consular and public
affairs sections are spreading critical information to AmCits
to ensure their safety and the warden system is ready for
activation. End Summary.
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Fractured Host Government Preparedness
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2. (SBU) As of October 21, the Ministry of Agriculture
imposed two bans intended to help minimize the spread of any
virus: a ban on gathering large numbers (term undefined) of
birds together for exhibits, competition, or breeding; and a
nonsensical ban on pigeon racing. On a more encouraging
note, the State Veterinarian Office has asked for the 14
regional veterinary centers to hold educational seminars for
poultry workers by the end of October, has two emergency
destruction centers, and has an up-to-date plan to respond to
any infectious diseases.
3. (SBU) The Ministry of Health, which is wracked with
internal struggles and has gone through six Ministers in as
many years, is doing little to respond to Avian Flu concerns.
The Czech Republic has set aside funds to order
approximately 2 million doses of avian flu vaccine, which
will be produced in-country (note: the population of Czech
Republic is 10 million, about 1 million of which reside in
Prague). However, clinical tests are not due to begin until
next year. The government claims to have 600,000 doses of
Tamiflu already in stock, and has promised to purchase more,
while at the same time banning the sale of Tamiflu to the
public. The acting Minister of Health, David Rath, who was
only appointed on October 20, is rather dismissive of Avian
Flu concerns, stressing that "people are far more at risk of
dying in a road accident."
Post Readiness
4. (SBU) Post held an EAC meeting October 25 on Avian Flu.
Post will have sufficient supplies of Tamiflu for all
employees (Americans and FSNs) and American dependents in
December, and is currently looking into the purchase of
additional doses to cover the family members of locally hired
employees. The Embassy website is being updated to include
information for AmCits about the flu and where they can get
medical treatment in Prague. If there were to be a
substantial outbreak, medical facilities in the capital would
likely be insufficient and AmCits who reside in the area or
are quarantined during a visit due to an outbreak would be
subject to the provisional plans of the government, which at
this point are uncertain.
5. (SBU) Comment: While the Ministry of Health does have a
pandemic plan in place and has ready access to military
resources in the event of an Avian Flu outbreak, hospitals
that post is in contact with, are unfamiliar with the
pandemic response plan. Post continues to monitor the
government preparedness.
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