BEIJING (AP) — Authorities in eastern China announced a ban today on live poultry sales following a spike in the number of people infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu, with the busy Chinese New Year travel period already under way.
So far this year, the virus has killed 20 people in China out of 96 known infections, according to the official Xinhua News Agency. The deaths were in eastern Shanghai, neighboring Zhejiang province and southern Guangdong province. A week ago, more than 50 cases had been reported. The virus remains hard to catch and most cases have been linked to contact with poultry.
The jump in cases comes during the 40-day travel period around Chinese New Year, a period that concerns health authorities because of the volume of people traveling in crowded trains and buses, often with live chickens aboard.