03/06/2006, 00.00
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First fatal bird flu case in a big Chinese city

The victim—the ninth overall in the country—came into contact with live poultry in a market. Imports into Hong Kong have been suspended.

Hong Kong (AsiaNews/SCMP) – Mainland China has suspended the shipment of live chickens and pet birds to Hong Kong after it was confirmed that a man died from the bird flu in neighbouring Guangzhou, Guangdong province. Hong Kong's Health, Welfare and Food Bureau Secretary York Chow Yat-ngok said the ban will be in place for three weeks.

Lao Qiliang, 32, died on Thursday after developing fever and pneumonia on February 22. His is the first case of human infection in a big city, just two hours by train from Hong Kong.  He is reported to have frequented wet markets.

Guangdong Governor Huang Huahua said an investigation was under way to find out how Lao became infected even though there had been no outbreak in local poultry. None of the 122 people under medical observation has shown symptoms.

Henk Bekedam, WHO's representative for China, noted that none of China's 14 human cases were from areas where outbreaks in poultry had been reported.

Hong Kong normally imports 30,000 birds per day from mainland China. Local producers cannot supply more than 20,000 chickens a day, which is insufficient to meet demand. Frozen poultry is not however covered by the ban.

In the territory 16 infected birds have been found in the last few weeks.

Indonesia. A ten-year-old boy, who died in Boyolali district, central Java, on March 4, is very likely the tenth bird flu casualty in the country. In 

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See also
More bird flu deaths in China and Indonesia
A new death from bird flu in Vietnam
Violence against Christians in Vientiane and Luang Phrabang
WHO: China may have unidentified bird flu outbreaks
Bird flu feared more virulent in Eastern Europe than in Asia


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