Bird flu death toll climbs to 10 in China; 5 new cases



Beijing: The death toll due to the bird flu outbreak continued to rise in China as one more person died on Thursday taking the total number of fatalities to 10 while five more cases of the deadly virus were reported.

One more person died and three others tested positive for the H7N9 bird flu virus in the 23 million-strong Shanghai city where the most of the cases were reported.

So far, 38 cases of H7N9 bird flu infections have been reported nationwide, of which 10 people died, state-run Xinhua news agency reported.

Also, two more people tested positive for the bird flu virus in east China's Jiangsu Province, the other province which was hit hard besides Shanghai, bringing the total number of cases nationwide to 35, health authorities said today.

A 31-year-old man surnamed Yin, a restaurant chef in the city of Yangzhou was diagnosed with H7N9 avian influenza.

Yin, who is receiving treatment in the provincial capital of Nanjing, is in a critical condition, an official statement said.

Another man surnamed Qian, 56, also tested positive for the virus today and his condition was stated to critical.

Besides Shanghai all cities in Jiangsu and neighbouring provinces have banned sale of poultry.

The Shanghai municipal government said it will provide poultry farms with subsidies to help them through the deadly virus scare.

More than 20,000 poultry animals was slaughtered in the last few days in the city.

According to Shanghai's subsidy standard announced yesterday, poultry farms can get 15 yuan (USD 2.4) for each bird they have kept in stock between April 1 and 30.

Individual farmers can get 3 yuan for egg-laying hens.

The government is also purchasing chickens from farmers at a certain price to help poultry farmers offset losses, and pay back poultry merchants for slaughtering their stocks with no less than 50 per cent of the products' market prices.

Meanwhile, a commentary by Xinhua said the Chinese government is more transparent with the information of the new bird flu outbreak compared to the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) epidemic that occurred 10 years ago in which hundreds died.

The commentary said that the government has learned from the mistakes it made when dealing with the outbreak of SARS in 2003.

The delayed disclosure was partially blamed for claiming the lives of several hundred people on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, it said.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) has asked all health authorities to issue information regarding the virus in a timely, accurate and transparent manner.

The commission itself has issued daily updates on H7N9 cases across China.

"The Chinese government has been very transparent in dealing with the H7N9 bird flu," said Hu Yonghua, dean of the School of Public Health at Peking University.

Hu said the transparency has resulted in quick response from administrative agencies and research institutes, helped curb panic among the public and win cooperation of the people.

"This also helped prevent deaths and spread of the epidemic," he said.

China is the first country to detect human infections of the H7N9 virus after a patient died of unknown flu-related pneumonia last month in Shanghai, Xinhua said.

PTI