Hong Kong on Health Alert After China Bird Flu Death

Bird flu, or avian influenza, is often spread by people or trucks that come into contact with contaminated faeces. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau

HONG KONG, Jan 6 – A woman in the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has died after being infected with the highly contagious H5N6 bird flu virus, days after she was admitted to hospital, Hong Kong’s Health Department said on Wednesday.

The 26-year-old woman’s death last week comes ahead of the Chinese New Year holiday in early February when millions of Chinese travel to their home towns to celebrate with their families, with chicken a popular festive meal.

All border check points between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and the airport, had already introduced disease prevention measures with thermal imaging systems in place, a department spokesman said.

The department was also notified by the Guangdong health authority on Jan. 1 that a 40-year-old woman from Zhaoqing city in the same province was infected with H5N6 and was in a critical condition.

The government has not banned poultry imports from the mainland so far, according to a spokesman from the city’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department.

Hong Kong culled thousands of chickens and suspended imports of live poultry from mainland China in December 2014 after a H7 bird flu strain was discovered in live chickens.

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