China: Bird flu claims its 14th victim

A total of 63 people have been infected with the new bird-flu strain.

The latest fatality was a 77-year-old woman who died Sunday night in hospital after the emergency treatments given her were ineffective, the official Xinhua news agency said.

Bird flu
Woman in front of a stall which kept live chickens for sale. Now closed to control bird flu in Shanghai. Pic/AFP

Up to now, the area hit hardest by the spread of the virus is Shanghai with 24 cases, followed by the neighbouring province of Jiangsu with 17, Zhejiang with 16, Anhui with three, Henan with two, and a single case reported in Beijing.

Though the World Health Organization dismisses the possibility of an epidemic, since it has not been confirmed that the virus is contagious among humans, experts fear the strain can mutate into a type that can be transmitted person to person.

Nonetheless, the health and family planning ministry insists on its web site that chicken and eggs can be eaten without fear if they are previously cooked.

This is the line maintained Monday by a report in the official daily Global Times, which urges the Chinese population not to panic over H7N9 so the virus doesn't become "a disaster for the entire poultry industry".

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