Reports in Vietnam suggest the country could declare itself free from the bird flu epidemic as early this weekend (7-8 January).

By the end of the weekend, all infected cities and provinces in Vietnam will have been free from the avian flu virus for 21 consecutive days, according to the Veterinary Department under Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Vetinary officials will then consider the region under control, according to the Vietnam News Brief Service.

The central Nghe An and Quang Tri provinces have become clear zones, bringing the total to 20 out of 22 hit localities nationwide. The remaining two provinces of Cao Bang and Ha Giang in the north are hoping to be off the bird flu map within two days.

The total number of poultry lost following the flu outbreak in Vietnam is estimated at 220m – with the government of Vietnam reportedly having spent approximately VND1,500bn (US94.9m) on the epidemic since the beginning of October.

Yesterday (5 January) just-food reported how Vietnam’s deputy prime minister Nguyen Tan Dung instructed the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (MARD) to lift the ban on imports of processed poultry products.