China approves new drug to treat bird flu, cases rise to 18

China on Saturday approved a new type of drug that it believes may be effective in treating the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus.

Beijing: China on Saturday approved a new type of drug that it believes may be effective in treating the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus, even as two more cases were reported taking the total to 18, six of whom have died so far.

According to a statement issued by the China Food and Drug Administration, the potential of injections of `peramivir diluted in sodium chloride` have proved effective in preliminary tests, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

As of today, China has confirmed 18 H7N9 cases -- eight in Shanghai, six in Jiangsu, three in Zhejiang and one in Anhui, in the first known human infections of the lesser-known strain. Hong Kong too reported one case.

Six people, four in Shanghai and two in Zhejiang province have died due to the virus, which till now have no proven cure.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission of China said today that the country`s H7N9 cases were isolated and there has been no sign of human-to-human transmission.

Sale of poultry was suspended in Nanjing and Hangzhou along with China`s biggest city, Shanghai as a total of 18 cases were reported resulting in six deaths, as the deadly H7N9 bird flu virus spreads rapidly in the eastern part of the country.

The ban of the sale of poultry came after the World Health Organisation (WHO) announced that while it was determined so far that the virus would not spread from human to human, it could spread from the dust particles from infected poultry markets.

Authorities planned to cull birds at two live poultry markets in Shanghai and another in Hangzhou after 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, Xinhua reported.

Shanghai was the first to close its live poultry markets and banned all live poultry from other parts of the country from entering the city. Two fresh cases of H7N9 were reported by the local government today. Two men aged 66 and 74 years were confirmed to have been infected with the deadly strain in China`s largest city Shanghai, which has over 23 million people.

Zhejiang`s provincial capital of Hangzhou, and Jiangsu`s provincial capital of Nanjing have suspended live poultry trading and ordered the culling of thousands of birds in the main markets today.

"Sales of live poultry at the three main poultry trade markets -- Zijinshan, Tianyinshan and Jianye -- which account for 90 percent of all poultry in the city, have been banned. Meanwhile, we will ban live poultry from other places from entering the city, as well as stop transporting birds out of Nanjing," Wang Zhixi, deputy director of the Industrial

The second confirmed H7N9 case in Zhejiang has been found to have eaten quails bought from the Binsheng Agricultural and Sideline Products Market in Shangcheng District, Hangzhou city. The disease control and prevention centre of Hangzhou detected H7N9 bird flu virus from the quails in the market yesterday. The virus sample has been sent to national disease control and prevention center for a recheck.

Meanwhile, sales of chickens and eggs have crashed all over China following the scare.