The major city of Guangzhou in southern China closed its live poultry markets yesterday for two weeks to halt the spread of the H7N9 strain of bird flu.
The closure lasts through Feb. 28 “to strengthen work to control the spread of the H7N9 flu,” the city government said in a one-sentence announcement on its microblog.
Guangzhou is the capital of Guangdong Province, one of the hardest-hit areas in China’s latest bird flu outbreak. Sixty-five cases and 13 deaths have been reported by the provincial health bureau. The latest was a 78-year-old man who died on Friday in Guangzhou.
Nationwide, there have been at least 32 deaths, according to Xinhua news agency. The health ministry said 127 cases were reported nationwide last month.
Jiangcun market in Guangzhou is one of China’s busiest, with more than 60,000 birds per day sold there last year, according to Xinhua.
The virus is hard to catch and most cases have been linked to contact with poultry. The WHO says there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission, but has recommended close monitoring due to the unpredictable behavior of flu viruses.