At Eden Park Bed and Breakfast we had an excellent March and April with guests needing accommodation. This is shown with the highest number of international guest nights in Auckland, up 6%. Auckland will always be the gateway but with the aftermath of the earthquakes in Christchurch we have found an increasing number of clients not even thinking of going to the South Island. They want to stay in Auckland and do day trips. I feel that this might be an increasing trend with International arrivals. We started our yearly maintenance schedule this month and I have been in the painting mode so we concentrated on getting the interior white paint done. I am a fan of using oil based high gloss white paint on the skirting,scotia and architraves. And it looks very good. Although the paint smell is still strong in the house. Marlene is in Christchurch visiting the grandchildren so I have the house to myself. It’s lonely being by one self again.
Total guest nights fell 0.8% to 3.1 million in March from the same month a year ago.
The bulk of the decline came from a 3.6% drop in international visitor guest nights to 1.3m, with a sharper fall in South Island accommodation.
That was offset by a 1.4% gain in guest nights from New Zealanders to 1.8m.
The figures come after the Ministry of Tourism data showed 2.62m foreign visitors spent $5.64 billion locally in the year ended March
International guest nights decreased in eight of the country’s 12 regions in last month, led by Northland, down 25% and Otago, which fell 8%.
Domestic guest nights also increased in six regions. Bay of Plenty led the fall, down 6.6%, followed by Northland on 13%.
Auckland had the largest rise of about 7%.
Holiday parks bore the brunt, down 5.6%, followed by backpacker accommodation, which slipped 2.7%, and motels, with a dip of 2.1%.
This scares me. You cannot see it,it has no smell. It will spread via air. Someone will get on an airplane feeling unwell and when that plane arrives at its destination, the virus will spread to new hosts.
China has reported that a man died in southern China on Sunday from the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Health Ministry reported. It was China’s second such death in less than a month.
The latest victim, an unidentified 39-year-old, fell ill on Jan. 6 and was admitted to a hospital in Guizhou Province the same day, the Health Ministry said in a statement reported by Xinhua, the official news agency.
A 39-year-old bus driver in Shenzhen, a city in Guangdong Province near Hong Kong, died a week before
Both deaths were notable because neither victim reported any contact with birds in the month preceding his illness. The virus is known to spread through contract with infected birds, eggs or bird feces, but experts said a pandemic could occur were it to mutate into a form that was more easily spread.
In the latest case, the victim “did not report obvious exposure history to poultry before the onset of symptoms,” according to the bulletin from Hong Kong. But the Chinese authorities, who are monitoring 71 people known to have been in contact with the victim, have found no other evidence of flu, the ministry reported.
People who were in contact with the Shenzhen victim also have remained symptom-free, leading some experts to conclude that neither case involved transmission among humans. On Sunday, Chinese censors generally blocked Internet users from reading reports of the latest death.
Worldwide, bird flu has killed 343 of the 582 people who are known to have been infected, according to the World Health Organization, including 28 of the 42 infected Chinese victims. With the world’s largest poultry population, and close contact between birds and people in rural areas, China is regarded as a major breeding ground for the disease.
Vietnam has reported 60 deaths, including that of an 18-year-old duck farmer last week. A victim in Indonesia also recently died.
You have to be concerned when you hear that the United States Government has taken the unprecedented step of asking scientists to censor key parts of their work describing how they managed to mutate the H5N1 bird flu virus into a strain that could be highly infectious.
Officials have become so alarmed at the prospect of the information falling into the hands of terrorists that they have asked for critical details of the experiments to be deleted before publication.
Two groups of scientists, in the Netherlands and the US, have submitted scientific papers describing how they managed to convert the virus, which does not spread easily between people, into an airborne form that can be transmitted in coughs and sneezes.
In a statement released yesterday, the US National Institutes of Health, which funded the research, says there are concerns that the virus could evolve naturally into a form that is transmissible between humans, which could result in a devastating pandemic.
“While the public health benefits of such research can be important, certain information obtained through such studies has the potential to be misused for harmful purposes,” the statement says. “These manuscripts … concluded that the H5N1 virus has greater potential than previously believed to gain a dangerous capacity to be transmitted among mammals, including perhaps humans.”
Ron Fouchier, a virologist at the Erasmus Medical Centre in Rotterdam, deliberately mutated the virus before passing it from one group of ferrets to another, which led to five mutations in two genes. His work was submitted to Science, while the manuscript of a similar study carried out by Yoshihiro Kawaoka of Wisconsin and Tokyo universities was submitted to Nature.
While supportive of preventing research details falling into the wrong hands, Bruce Alberts and Philip Campbell, editors-in-chief of Science and Nature respectively, spoke of concerns about withholding potentially important public health information from responsible researchers.
Some scientists question whether such research should have been done in a university that does not have sophisticated anti-terrorist security. They also warn that viruses kept in seemingly secure laboratories have escaped in the past to cause epidemics – such as a 1977 flu outbreak.
“The fear is that if you create something this deadly and it goes into a global pandemic, the mortality and cost to the world could be massive,” a senior scientific adviser to the US Government told the Independent. “The worst-case scenario here is worse than anything you can imagine.”
The H5N1 strain of avian influenza has killed hundreds of millions of birds since 1996, but has so far infected only 600 people who came into direct contact with infected poultry. It has killed about 60 per cent of those people, making it one of the most lethal known forms of influenza in modern history – a deadliness moderated only by its inability, so far, to spread easily.
Scientists are in little doubt that the new strain has the potential to kill tens of millions of people. Independent