Hong Kong authorities have urged people visiting China to avoid wet markets that sell live poultry, as concerns mount about an increase in bird flu cases on the mainland.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr. Ko Wing-man said on Sunday that Hong Kong has seen four imported human cases of H7N9 infection so far this winter, suggesting that bird flu risk is still out there, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
Ko said the government is concerned about not only the H7N9 bird flu virus but also the H5N6 and H5N8 strains, which have been reported in neighboring Asian regions as well as in America and Europe.
He claimed the risk for human infection is higher for H5 subtypes than H7.
The government will hold a cross-departmental meeting this week to discuss ways to cope with the situation, the health secretary said.
The health department’s Centre for Health Protection has called on people to avoid touching poultry, birds, animals or their droppings, and also reminded citizens that they should cook eggs and poultry thoroughly before eating them.
Guangdong has been listed as the province with highest bird flu risk based on the reported number of cases, with more than three in ten of its wet markets considered exposed to the H7N9 virus.
On Sunday, Beijing health authorities said a 68-year-old man was confirmed to be suffering from H7N9 infection, the first of its kind this year. The patient is said to be in critical condition.
Meanwhile, three cases have also been confirmed in Fujian province. Elsewhere, health authorities in Taiwan have killed about 120,000 poultry after they were found to contract H5N2 or H5N8 virus.
Macau has suspended local live poultry trade after an imported human case of bird flu was confirmed last month.
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