Jun 5, 2008 (CIDRAP News) – Indonesia’s health minister said today the government has stopped the practice of promptly notifying global health officials each time it confirms a human H5N1 avian influenza case or death, a move some say will likely hamper efforts to monitor the world’s pandemic risk level.Health Minister Siti Fadilah Supari today confirmed that a 15-year-old girl from Jakarta tested positive for H5N1 avian influenza on May 13 and died the next day, according to a report from the Associated Press (AP). Indonesia’s National Committee for Avian Influenza Control and Pandemic Influenza had previously listed the case as confirmed on its Web site, but the information is apparently no longer listed.The WHO, which typically confirms cases when it receives notifications from health ministries or test results from its collaborating laboratories, has not yet confirmed Indonesia’s most recent case and has not commented on Supari’s decision to stop sending out H5N1 case notifications. The WHO’s last confirmed an Indonesian H5N1 case, in a 3-year old boy who died on Apr 23, on Apr 30.Supari told the AP that the health ministry would not send out H5N1 case confirmations until after they have been reported in the media. However, Reuters reported today that the ministry will announce the death toll from the H5N1 virus only every 6 months.”How does it help us to announce these deaths?” Supari told the AP. “We want to focus now on positive steps and achievements made by the government in fighting bird flu.”She told Reuters that announcements of H5N1 deaths are sometimes misunderstood. “It’s OK not to announce it. Sometimes they only give hurtful comments instead of helping,” she said without further explanation.Indonesia has been hit hardest of any country by the H5N1 virus. According to the WHO’s most recent count, the country has had 133 cases and 108 deaths.The country’s refusal to share timely reports of human H5N1 cases is the latest in a series of controversies that began when Indonesia stopped sharing its H5N1 isolates in early 2007 to protest what it views as a lack of access to affordable H5N1 therapies and vaccines. The WHO has held several meetings to resolve the virus sharing issues, but so far no agreements have been reached.Sharon Sanders, editor-in-chief of FluTrackers, a well-known Web message board that focuses on avian flu developments, told CIDRAP News that Indonesia’s decision to delay H5N1 notifications will obscure what is happening there, which negatively affects the world’s ability to prepare for a pandemic.She said Indonesia’s news blackout would likely have the opposite effect from what the government apparently intends. “Now, there will be intense speculation and generation of rumors surrounding suspicious deaths that have similar symptoms to H5N1 infections,” Sanders said. “False rumors of an H5N1 outbreak have the potential to be even more economically devastating than a government-confirmed outbreak.”Established in early 2006, FluTrackers monitors avian flu developments in several languages from several sources and hosts international discussion forums and resource lists.Sanders said media reports coming out of Indonesia are generally reliable, but have some drawbacks. “In many instances, reported suspicious human cases have little or no follow up, so we are left with gaps in our total picture,” she said.Indonesia’s avian flu news blackout might increase traffic to online avian flu communities, such as FluTrackers and FluWiki, because they translate and analyze Indonesian newspaper reports, blogs, newscasts, and other sources, Sanders said.”FluTrackers will continue to publish what we can; however, we rely on the local sources in Indonesia,” she said. “Since the national government is imposing restrictions on when they confirm human deaths, we are watching for other restrictions such as suppression of the local news media to develop.”
“Maybe I watch a movie. I don’t know,” he said. “For me, it’s very similar to going to a cinema and somebody tells me ‘you are not allowed to come in’. “Or I go to a shop to buy a pair of shoes and somebody tells me ‘you cannot come into the shop to buy a pair of shoes’. “So tomorrow I want to go to a football match, Stoke against Chelsea, and if I try to do that somebody will stop me. “I want to go to Stoke-Chelsea with my son and, at the door of the stadium, somebody says: ‘You kid, you can come in. You father, you go home’. That’s the basic picture. “On top of it, I am going to that stadium to work, and people says ‘you cannot come here to do your work’. “Even if I buy a ticket people will stop me (coming in). There is no chance.” Mourinho must stay away from the Britannia Stadium following his half-time dismissal at West Ham last month. The Blues boss “admitted a Football Association charge of misconduct regarding his language and/or behaviour towards the match officials in or around the dressing room area” at Upton Park and was fined £40,000 alongside the stadium ban. The FA released its reasons on Friday, with referee Jonathan Moss saying Mourinho called him “f****** weak”. “My punishment, the dimension of my punishment, the stadium ban that stays suspended, obviously affects everything,” said Mourinho, who on Thursday lost a separate appeal against a suspended one-match stadium ban. “My answers (to the media), obviously, are going to be different. “The way I participate with the game, obviously, is going to be different. “I had a game a few days ago where I stood for 90 minutes on my side. The other manager (Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp) was jumping like Michael Jordan and nothing happened. “So, I know that for me everything is different. It’s changed a lot. “I think the message that the power (the FA) want to give me, the message is more than clear.” Mourinho is frustrated he is barred from doing his job as he says he is uncertain how he will follow the game, although it is inconceivable he will not watch the televised contest. Press Association Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho says his stadium ban changes everything and compared his banishment from Stoke’s Britannia Stadium with being prevented from entering a cinema to watch a film.