But officials say birds were free of H5N1 A mainland farmer confirmed to have H5N1 bird flu had worked as a casual construction labourer in a village where 11 chickens had died, a Ministry of Health report reveals. But the chickens did not test positive for H5N1, mainland authorities said in the January 17 report to the World Health Organisation. The case of the 37-year-old farmer, surnamed Li, who lives in Youxi village, Tunguang town, Anhui province , was the first confirmed human case of H5N1 flu on the mainland in six months. It also upped the ante for Hong Kong, where five wild birds have been confirmed to have H5N1 since New Year's Eve. The ministry report came after the WHO asked mainland authorities for more details about Mr Li's case. At the time the case came to light, the authorities said no outbreak had occurred among animals in the vicinity. 'The WHO considers the Chinese Ministry of Health's handling of the Anhui case has been thorough, rigorous and timely,' Joanna Brent, spokeswoman for WHO's Beijing office, said yesterday. There have been 22 confirmed human cases of H5N1 to date on the mainland, of which 14 were fatal. Twenty-one of the 22 had not been preceded by a poultry outbreak, and often investigators had found no sign of sick poultry in the vicinity, the WHO said. The ministry report says that three days before Mr Li fell ill, he went to nearby She county to help a local villager build a house. A dead chicken was found at the site but Mr Li had no contact with it. Eleven dead chickens were found in the village, but H5N1 was ruled out by the Ministry of Agriculture after tests. The poultry in Mr Li's own village of Youxi is vaccinated against bird flu and there have been no reports of bird deaths there. Mr Li developed fever and cough on December 10. He sought outpatient medical help at the village from December 14-17. He was admitted to Huangshan Municipal People's Hospital on December 17 and by December 25 his fever subsided. Thirty-seven people who had been in contact with him, including his wife and three children, were put under medical observation from December 17-29. All have been cleared. The case was confirmed as H5N1 by the mainland's Centre for Disease Control on January 8 and the WHO was informed a day later.