Indonesia, which has the highest death toll from bird flu of any country, kicked off a three-day emergency drill Friday to deal with a possible avian influenza pandemic, dpa reported.
Several hundred government, health and law enforcement officials were at the event, which will end on Sunday on the resort island of Bali, to consider how to contain a possible widespread outbreak of the deadly disease.
More than 50 foreigners, including 14 diplomats, were taking part in the exercise, the largest-ever bird flu drill in Indonesia.
The simulation begin with a man presenting himself to a clinic with symptoms of the avian influenza virus, followed by the isolation of a village where a field hospital would be set up to treat people with flu-like symptoms.
I Nyoman Kandun, director-general of the contagious disease control at the Health Ministry, said the three-day simulation was aimed at testing the country's preparedness for any such outbreak, which will involve residents in several villages on the Indonesian resort island.
"The objective is to test the preparedness of bird flu officials to manage an outbreak in case it happens," Kandun told reporters.
"At this stage, there is no human-to-human transmission in Indonesia," Kandun said. "But experts have warned that if there is a pandemic outbreak, millions people in many countries in the world, including Indonesia, will be infected with the virus."
Government officials had warned that more than 60 million Indonesians, or about 35 per cent of the country's population, could be infected with deadly bird flu if a bird flu pandemic strikes the world's fourth most-populous country.
Indonesia has had 132 confirmed cases of bird flu, 107 of them fatal, making it the world's worst-affected.
Contact with sick fowl is the most common way of contracting the H5N1 virus, which is endemic in bird populations in most of Indonesia.
Experts say the danger is that the virus may evolve into a form that people can easily catch and pass to one another, in which case the transmission rate would soar.