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August 17, 2017

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Indonesia to forcibly hospitalize people with bird flu symptoms

The government imposed "extraordinary" measures Tuesday to contain a bird flu outbreak that has killed four people in Indonesia, including the forced hospitalization of people with symptoms of the disease.

In addition to the fatalities, seven patients suspected of having the H5N1 strain of bird flu — two of them zoo employees — have been admitted to Jakarta's infectious diseases hospital, officials said.

Blood samples from the patients have been sent to Hong Kong for testing.

Health Minister Siti Fadila Supari assured the public there was no reason to panic, saying the government was taking the outbreak seriously and had assigned 44 state-owned hospitals to treat avian influenza patients and make sure all receive free medication.

Those with symptoms of the disease — including high fever, coughing and breathing difficulties — could be forcibly admitted to hospitals, Supari said.

She said a 21-day state of high alert against the disease, issued Tuesday by the government, could be extended if necessary.

Meanwhile, zoos across the sprawling archipelago were taking measures to protect their animals after 19 eagles, peacocks and other birds tested positive for the virus at the popular Ragunan Zoo in the capital, Jakarta, forcing it to close for three weeks. Two of its employees — a 28-year old guide and a 39-year-old vendor — were hospitalized Tuesday with bird flu symptoms, said I Nyoman Kandun, director general of Communicable Disease Control.

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