H7N9 virus

Three new cases bring China's H7N9 tally to 21, with 6 dead

Declare any infectious illness within two hours, schools told, and fanciers must not fly pigeons

PUBLISHED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 08 April, 2013, 12:09pm

The mainland reported three more cases of H7N9 yesterday - two in Shanghai and one in Anhui - amid heightened measures to contain the spread of the deadly virus.

The cases in Shanghai were a 59-year-old man from Anhui, who was in serious condition, and a 67-year-old Shanghai native, who was in stable condition. The Anhui case was a 55-year-old man from Haozhou who slaughtered and sold poultry. They bring the national tally of cases to 21, six of them fatal.

More than 190 people who had close contact with 10 Shanghai patients were being monitored, authorities said. Two had developed signs of flu but laboratory test for H7N9 were negative.

Local media reported the culling of more than 98,000 poultry and a ban on public contact with pigeons. The city's Association of Carrier Pigeons warned its 13,000 members to keep cages clean and banned the usual twice-daily training flights. Nearly two million pigeons were involved, the Xinmin Evening Post reported.

Shanghai authorities moved pigeons from several open areas, including People's Square and Century Park. Walk-in aviaries in Shanghai zoos were closed and animal shows involving birds suspended.

The Shanghai Education Commission ordered schools to record the reason for any teacher or student calling in sick, with any infectious illness to be declared to the district's centre for disease control and prevention within two hours. Schools were also warned to ensure they had sufficient disinfectants. Local television showed workers spraying classrooms with disinfectant.

World Health Organisation China representative Dr Michael O'Leary said it was too early to pin down the source of transmission. It was "still under investigation so it is a bit of an open question", he said. "We don't have sustainable evidence to suggest human-to-human transmission."

In Hangzhou , a poultry dealer whose stall is just metres from one where a confirmed H7N9 patient bought two quail before falling ill, said no one had come to test or disinfect her stall.

"There has been no notice to prohibit sales, so we continue to sell chicks and ducks, but nobody comes to buy them," she said.

The city's health authority denied a previous media report that H7N9 was found in live quail.

Hong Kong's latest suspected case, a 15-month-old girl who returned from Anhui on March 31, tested negative, the Centre for Health Protection said yesterday.

Guangdong has set up a medical fund with an initial 30 million yuan (HK$37.5 million) to help H7N9 patients, the Information Times reported.

View H7N9 map in a larger map

Click on each balloon for more information on individual patients infected with the avian flu virus: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with H7N9 who have died; and pink, those infect with the H1N1 avian flu virus.