China appeals for calm after first death from flu

China appeals for calm after first death from flu 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.