SHANGHAI — Two more people have contracted bird flu in Shanghai, China’s health ministry said on Saturday, as authorities closed live poultry markets and culled birds to combat a new virus strain that has killed six people.
Report by Reuters
State-run Xinhua news agency said authorities planned to slaughter birds at two live poultry markets in Shanghai and another in Hangzhou after new samples of the H7N9 virus were detected in birds at the three sites.
More than 20 000 birds have been culled at another Shanghai market where traces of the virus were found this week.
Officials in Shanghai, China’s financial hub, closed all the city’s live poultry markets on Saturday, emptying food stalls.
All poultry trading was banned in Nanjing, another eastern Chinese city, although local officials said they had not found any trace of the bird flu virus and declared that chicken on the retail market was safe to eat, official media reported.
The new strain of bird flu has infected 18 people in China, all in the east.
Six people have died in an outbreak that has spread concern overseas and sparked a sell-off in airline shares in Europe and Hong Kong.
There were no signs of panic in Shanghai, where four of the six deaths have occurred, and people generally said they were not worried. But the culling, which has been widely publicised, did underline for some how close to home the issue had become.
“Now it’s just downstairs,” said Liu Leting, a user of Weibo, China’s version of Twitter which has more than 500 million users.
“Suddenly I discover that I’m living in an epidemic zone!”
In one city restaurant, a waitress said they planned to stop serving chicken because of the outbreak.
“After we sell out the chicken in stock, we will not buy new chicken and we will stop serving chicken dishes for the time being,” said the waitress, who declined to be identified.
The strain does not appear to be transmitted from human to human, said authorities in mainland.