The Chinese authorities have confirmed the country’s second and third cases of human bird flu infection this week as South Korea and Japan battle to control outbreaks of the deadly virus.
The new cases were in Shanghai and Xiamen in Fujian province in eastern China.
Shanghai’s health authority said it was treating a man diagnosed with H7N9 bird flu.
The man had travelled from the neighbouring province of Jiangsu, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said on its website on Wednesday.
First imported case of bird flu this winter confirmed by Hong Kong health authorities
The local authorities in Xiamen ordered a halt to poultry sales from Thursday in the Siming district after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9 avian flu on Sunday, Xinhua reported.
The patient is receiving treatment in hospital and is in a stable condition, Xinhua said, citing Xiamen’s diseases prevention and control centre.
Shanghai is China’s largest city by population with more than 24 million residents while Xiamen has a population of about 3.5 million.
The latest incidents come after Hong Kong confirmed an elderly man was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.
The cases come as South Korea and Japan have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds in the past month, stoking fears of regional spread.
Bird flu is most likely to strike in winter and spring and farmers have in recent years increased cleaning regimes, animal detention techniques and built roofs to cover hen pens, among other steps, to prevent the disease.
Still concerns about the spread of the virulent airborne bird flu comes as farmers in China are preparing for the year’s peak demand during the Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of January.
In light of the recent outbreaks in nearby countries, they are feeding their flocks more vitamins and vaccines and ramping up hen house sterilisations in a bid to protect their birds.
The authorities said on Wednesday they would ban imports of poultry from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu.
South Korea, Japan step up poultry cull to contain highly contagious H5N6 bird flu strain
It already prohibits imports from more than 60 nations, including Japan and South Korea.
The last major bird flu outbreak in mainland China in 2013 killed 36 people and caused about US$6.5 billion in losses to the agriculture sector.
China’s ministry of agriculture website said delegations from Japan, South Korea and China gathered in Beijing last week for a symposium on preventing and controlling bird flu and other diseases in East Asia.