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Emergency over as city H7N9 free for 20 days
2013-05-12 10:11

NO human H7N9 bird flu infections have been reported in Shanghai for the past 20 days, prompting the city to end its emergency response scheme for epidemic diseases.

However, hospitals and health authorities will continue to monitor and prevent the spread of the virus, the city government said yesterday.

The emergency regime, activated on April 2, called for heightened monitoring of suspicious flu cases and daily reports from hospitals on cases of severe pneumonia of unknown causes.

Shanghai's first two bird flu cases emerged on March 31 and the city has so far recorded 33 cases. While 15 patients have recovered, 13 have died and five remain in hospital.

Meanwhile, the suspension of all live poultry business in the city is to continue.

The ban on live poultry trade was introduced on April 6, after positive readings from poultry in wet markets, in a bid to prevent the spread of the H7N9 virus to humans.

Chinese people traditionally prefer to buy live poultry and have it butchered because they believe the meat will be tastier than frozen meat.

The government said it would canvass public opinion before deciding whether to close live poultry markets permanently or allow them to reopen.

Medical experts said that three incubation periods of the H7N9 bird flu had passed as no cases emerged locally during the past 20 days. All 458 people who had close contact with local cases have all been released from medical observation. None had shown any abnormal symptoms.

Elsewhere, the incidence of H7N9 infections is also falling. Nonetheless, infectious disease experts in Shanghai are warning residents to stay alert as it is still the peak season for flu.

Dr Jiang Qingwu, dean of Fudan University's public health school, said seasonal flu spreads more easily than the H7N9 virus.

"There is also a possibility of a recurrence of the H7N9 virus, so staying away from poultry and having good personal hygiene are still important," he said. "The government should also review H7N9 prevention and control measures and launch proper measures before the arrival of next peak season of flu."

Pharmaceutical companies in the city said they will also remain alert and closely follow the mutation of the virus.

Source:Shanghai Daily