Mon, Apr 08, 2013 - Page 1 News List

China confirms two more cases of H7N9

AFP, SHANGHAI

China confirmed two more cases of bird flu in Shanghai yesterday, as authorities sought to curb a deadly outbreak by banning live poultry sales and disinfecting schools.

The announcement brought the number of recorded cases of the H7N9 strain of avian influenza in China’s developed eastern region to 20 since announcing a week ago that the virus had been found in humans for the first time.

Six people have died, including four in Shanghai, which has recorded 10 cases of the disease.

Shanghai’s local government said the latest confirmed cases in the city were two elderly men, now receiving medical treatment.

They came as China stepped up efforts yesterday to halt the outbreak with state media saying “intense” farming methods had heightened the risk of deadly diseases crossing from animals to humans.

The Chinese Ministry of Education ordered schools nationwide to “guarantee” the health of students against infectious disease, including H7N9, by ensuring the safety of food and monitoring for symptoms of illness.

In Shanghai, workers sprayed disinfectant in classrooms, local television showed, while markets were closed to halt the spread of the disease.

Shanghai had already banned live poultry trading, while nearby Nanjing has followed suit and Hangzhou culled poultry after discovering infected quail.

Dead sparrows found in Nanjing, which sparked alarm after photographs were posted online, had tested negative for H7N9, state media said.

In an editorial yesterday, the state-backed Global Times newspaper said farming methods were helping to spread the disease.

“In China’s southern and eastern coastal areas, agriculture, especially animal husbandry, has become more intense and populations more dense,” the English-language edition of the paper said. “There is greater chance of contact between humans and animals and subsequent diseases.”

It called for higher standards in the agricultural industry and more balanced development, instead of a narrow focus on rapid economic growth.

Chinese authorities, who have confirmed H7N9 in birds, maintain there is no evidence of human-to-human transmission of the virus.

“Currently, there is still no evidence showing the H7N9 bird flu virus is transmitted between people,” Shanghai health official Wu Fan (吳凡) told an online chat yesterday.

The WHO has played down fears over the H7N9 strain, agreeing there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, but saying it was crucial to find out how the virus infects humans.

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