[UPDATE - Friday, December 23, 5.45pm]
Two people in the Chinese province of Anhui have died of bird flu infection, the first fatalities among this winter’s avian flu cases in China.
Anhui has reported five cases of H7N9 avian flu since December 8, including two deaths, the province’s health authority said in a statement dated December 21, posted on its website.It did not say whether the other three people had recovered or not.The Anhui cases bring the total number of people infected with the H7N9 virus in mainland China this month to at least seven.
[Thursday, December 22]
Chinese authorities have confirmed a second case of human bird flu this week, as South Korea and Japan also battle to control outbreaks of the deadly virus.
Local authorities ordered a halt to poultry sales in the Siming district of Xiamen, in Fujian province, after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with the H7N9 avian flu on Sunday. The patient is being treated in hospital and is in a stable condition.
H7N9 is a bird flu strain which first infected people in China in March 2013.
South Korea and Japan have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds in the past month, stoking fears that the flu will spread around the region.
It comes as bird farmers in China are preparing for their busiest time: Lunar New Year at the end of January. After the recent outbreaks in nearby countries, they are feeding their flocks more vitamins and vaccines.
On Wednesday, authorities said they would ban imports of poultry from countries where there are outbreaks of bird flu. It already prohibits imports from Japan and South Korea.
Meanwhile, Hong Kong authorities confirmed the first human bird flu infection for this season after an elderly man was diagnosed with H7N9.
The 75-year-old man, who had visited Dongguan this month before returning to Hong Kong, is in serious condition.
Hong Kong has been battling occasional cases of avian flu in humans since the first outbreak killed six people in 1997.
Macau culled about 10,000 chickens last week after a poultry market worker fell ill with H7N9.