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After South Korea, Japan, China discovers two more cases of human bird flu

China has discovered two more cases of human bird flu infection. South Korea and Japan are working to contain outbreaks of different strains of the virus.

In Xiamen, a city in China's eastern Fujian province, local authorities halted poultry sales from Thursday in the Siming district, after a 44-year-old man was diagnosed with H7N9 flu on Sunday, state news agency Xinhua reported.

A man diagnosed with the H7N9 strain of bird flu is being treated in Shanghai, after travelling from the neighboring province of Jiangsu, the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning said on its website.

The patient is being treated in hospital and is stable condition, the South China Morning Post reported.

The latest incidents come after Hong Kong confirmed an elderly man was diagnosed with the disease earlier this week.

Health officials in South Korea and Japan are also working to contain outbreaks of different strains of the virus - which is most likely to strike in winter and spring.

Both countries have ordered the killing of tens of millions of birds in the past month, stoking fears of regional spread.  

China's authorities said they would ban imports of poultry from countries where there are outbreaks of highly pathogenic bird flu. It already prohibits imports from more than 60 nations, including Japan and South Korea.

Heavy losses expected

The poultry industry is expecting heavy financial losses, in particular as farmers in China are preparing for the year's peak demand during Lunar New Year celebrations at the end of January.

Farmers have in recent years taken measures to prevent the disease. 

The last major bird flu outbreak in mainland China in 2013 killed 36 people and caused about $6.5 billion (6.2 billion euros) in losses to agriculture.

jbh/jm (Reuters, AFP)

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