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China appeals for calm after first death from flu

Last Updated: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 15:30

Beijing: Health authorities in southern China
have asked residents not to panic after a man who contracted the bird flu virus died at the weekend, saying the deadly
virus is not transmissible to humans.

The 39-year-old man surnamed Chen, who was hospitalised
for fever on December 21 and tested positive for the H5N1
avian influenza virus, died of multiple organ failure on
Saturday, the Guangdong Health Department said in a statement.

The department also said that during the previous month
prior to his fever, he had no direct contact with poultry and
hadn`t travelled out of the city.

"No proof has been found that his infection is connected
with the migratory birds there," He Jianfeng, director of the
Epidemics Studies Institute of the Guangdong Disease Control
Center, said yesterday.

"We also don`t know whether he had eaten poultry before
he fell ill," He said.

The Shenzhen Disease Control Centre said that it is
still trying to find out where he acquired the virus.

Chen is China`s first reported human case of the deadly
disease in 18 months.

"The virus cannot spread among people" and "there is no
need for Shenzhen citizens to panic," Xinhua said, citing a
statement from the centre.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision,
Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) on December 22 suspended
supplies of live poultry to Hong Kong after a dead chicken
tested positive in Hong Kong for the highly pathogenic H5N1
virus.

The AQSIQ said it would maintain close contact and work together with the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) to jointly step up measures to control the epidemic.

The Guangdong Department of Agriculture announced
Saturday that no epidemic of bird flu among poultry had been
reported in the province.

Hong Kong media reports have quoted one of Chen`s
friends as saying that Chen had slaughtered a chicken to cook
for others, but He Jianfeng doesn`t think that was the cause
of his death.

"That took place a month ago. It cannot be the reason.
The latent period of bird flu virus doesn`t last that long,"
he said.

He advised locals against panicking, saying no proof has been found to show that bird flu virus can be spread among humans.
"By January 1, among the 120 people who had close contact with Chen, including his wife, colleagues and medical workers,
no one has shown any symptoms," he added.

The Shenzhen Municipal Entry-Exit Inspection and
Quarantine Bureau announced yesterday it had commenced 24-hour
monitoring at all ports during the ongoing three-day New Year
holiday to enhance health inspection of overseas visitors and
guard against possible health incidents.

PTI



First Published: Monday, January 2, 2012 - 15:30

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