Authorities in eastern China announced a ban on live poultry sales
following an increase in the number of people infected with the H7N9
strain of bird flu, with the busy Chinese New Year travel period already
So far this year, the virus has killed 19 people in China out of 96
infections, Feng Zijian, the deputy director of the Chinese Centre for Disease
Control and Prevention said, according to state media. A week ago, more than 50
cases had been reported. The virus remains hard to catch and most cases have
been linked to contact with poultry.
Live poultry in trains and buses
The jump in cases comes during the 40-day travel period around Chinese New
Year, a period that concerns health authorities because of the volume of people
travelling in crowded trains and buses, often with live chickens aboard.
Chinese are expected to make 3.6 billion trips as families reunite. The
holiday, which officially starts on Friday, also falls during the winter months
when flu typically rages.
Hong Kong authorities began culling 20 000 birds at a wholesale market after
poultry from southern mainland China tested positive for the H7N9 virus, the
first time it had been found in imported poultry in Hong Kong.
Live poultry trading will be halted in cities in coastal Zhejiang province
from 15 February, where 49 people have been infected and 12 people have died this
year, according to the Zhejiang Daily, which is run by the province's
propaganda department. From July, city poultry markets will be closed.
Neighbouring Shanghai will halt live poultry trading for three months. The city has reported eight infections and four deaths this
The World Health Organization says there is no evidence of sustained
human-to-human transmission, but has recommended close monitoring given the
holiday travel and the potentially unpredictable behaviour of flu viruses.
Over the weekend, health authorities in eastern Jiangxi province confirmed a
second human case of H10N8, a new strain of bird flu known to affect humans.
They said the 55-year-old woman was in a critical condition. The first case was
confirmed in December after a 73-year-old woman died from the virus.
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