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H7N9 avian flu
NewsHong Kong

Hong Kong on standby for H7N9 outbreak as China confirms three new cases

Government says it cannot rule out possibility of outbreak in city; Shanghai and Anhui confirm three new H7N9 cases

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 11:37pm


  • Yes: 67%
  • No: 33%
7 Apr 2013
  • Yes
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Total number of votes recorded: 382

China confirmed three more cases of H7N9 bird flu, two in Shanghai and one in Anhui, while Nanjing become the second mainland city to ban live poultry sales.

The latest cases in Shanghai and Anhui brought the total number of confirmed H7N9 cases across the nation to 21 - ten in Shanghai, six in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and two in Anhui. Four patients in Shanghai and two in Zhejiang have died.

Hong Kong's government said it could not rule out the possibility of an outbreak in the city.

Local governments in the Yangtze river delta stepped up efforts to contain the virus as it was found in more live poultry.

Authorities in Nanjing, the Jiangsu capital, closed all wholesale markets at dawn yesterday. All remaining live poultry was culled in Shanghai after 20,000 birds were killed on Friday.

In Hangzhou, authorities closed a farmers' market after the virus was detected in live quails. One of the current patients had eaten quail sold there.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said the cases so far were isolated and there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission.

The China Food and Drug Administration fast-tracked approval for the intravenous anti-influenza drug Peramivir.

Mao Qunan, director of the China Health Education Centre, said on the sidelines of the Boao Forum for Asia in Hainan that although there was no evidence of human-to-human transmission, the possibility should not be ruled out.

Leaders including President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang promised transparency in reporting of the virus.

The Hong Kong government said precautions were in place to cope with an outbreak.

Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man said yesterday: "We have to be prepared that H7N9, no matter if it's in poultry or humans, may appear in Hong Kong. The possibility can't be excluded."

Ko said the Hospital Authority could handle a reasonably large- scale outbreak and had 1,400 isolation beds available - in line with the government's strategy to identify and isolate suspected sufferers early.

Chief Executive Leung Chun-ying said the city had sufficient "disease prevention supplies" and there was "no need for panic buying".

About 30 pupils from Sheung Shui Wai Chow Public School left for Shanghai yesterday for a scheduled four-day study tour.

School principal Chan Siu-hung said the tour was planned three months ago and could not be cancelled. But in light of the bird flu outbreak, they would cancel visits to crowded places.

In Nanjing, residents posted pictures of dozens of dead sparrows found on Friday, which circulated widely online.

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.


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This article is now closed to comments

As an immediate precaution the keeping and slaughtering of live poultry in wet markets and other small stalls and shops should be banned immediately.
The health authorities have been pussyfooting around with this continuing health hazard, as well as condoning the continuation of animal cruelty (slaughtering method) for years. It is time to stop this practice once and for all.
Looks like Providence-based, EpiVax has already begun designing a vaccine against H7N9! Check out their blog post.
Of course aviary and swine flu epidemic must be tracked and monitored. However, I find the tone and tenor expressed in SCMP headlines disgustingly anti-China. No one mistakes your accusatory finger wagging and implications: China, you better come clean. How many more cases are you hiding in the closet?
Be concerned but relax. If push comes to shove, China's public health authorities will be more effective in containing an epidemic outbreak than just about all OECD countries. The reason is simple. In marshaling health care resources and enforcing quarantines, few countries have the will and authority as the Chinese government. Just remember how China handled Sars, accusations of cover-up notwithstanding.
Hong Kongers don't even remember the swine flu outbreak in the US just a little over a year ago. There were 307 confirmed cases with 12 deaths. That too attracted banner headlines in the US but not in Hong Kong.
It is estimated that between 17,000 and 52,000 flu related deaths every year, with most of them H3N2 strain. (H3N2v is the mutated swine flu in November 2011.) As long as the media are willing to sweep its sensationalized tabloid reporting under the rug, i.e., by generalizing all cases as immuno-compromised, everything will be hunky dory.
Of course, if you cry wolf everyday, one of these days one may show up at your door. Unfortunately, this all-profit-no-risk has served the media too well.
There's nothing wrong with the animals. Why slaughter them? Why do the Mainland neglect all environmental issues which perhaps is related to the bird flu epicdemic? Why do bird flu settle in China? Please reckon.


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