Bird flu alert expands
SHANGHAI - Hangzhou, the capital of eastern Zhejiang province, on Saturday became the second city in China to suspend live poultry trade and slaughter birds to curb the spread of the deadly H7N9 strain of avian flu.
- Published: 6/04/2013 at 04:17 PM
- Newspaper section: topstories
Two women take pictures of a cockerel in Beijing. Chinese authorities are warning people to avoid cpntact with fowl as concern about the H7N9 virus mounts. (AFP Photo)
The virus, which has killed two people in Hangzhou, was found on Friday in quail sold in a market in the city, the Xinhua News Agency said on Sarurday.
Officials in Shanghai, where four people have died, on Friday ordered the closure of all live poultry markets in the city.
The 16 confirmed human infections of the new strain of influenza in China are "isolated" and there has been no sign of human-to-human transmission, Xinhua said, citing the National Health and Family Planning Commission
Even so, the outbreak, first reported last month, has rattled markets amid concern the virus may spark an epidemic and hurt the economy.
"The current situation seems to be much more serious than previous cases of bird flu, although still no comparison to the Sars in spring 2003," said Lu Ting, head of Greater China economics at Bank of America in Hong Kong.
Even so, "past experiences told us that the negative impact from such epidemics won't last too long and ensuing pent-up demand could be strong, so there is no need for panic in the financial markets", Lu added.
One of the patients in Hangzhou, 160 kilometres southwest of Shanghai, diagnosed with H7N9 had bought and eaten quail from a market in the city's Shangcheng district, Xinhua said.
The local disease control and prevention centre detected the virus in quail sold in the market on Friday and authorities began culling live poultry there on Saturday.
In addition to closing all its live poultry markets, Shanghai has banned live poultry from other parts of the country from entering the city.
Six cases of H7N9 have been reported in Jiangsu province and one in Anhui province, both in eastern China.
Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health, Ko Wing-man, said he wasn't ruling out the possibility that Hong Kong may see bird-flu cases in poultry or humans.
The government would try to identify suspected cases as soon as possible, implement isolation and carry out rapid tests so that a large-scale outbreak in the city can be avoided, Ko was quoted as saying.
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- Writer: Bloomberg News