China hit by second disease outbreak as thousands of chickens wiped out

By Mirror | Sunday, Feb 2nd 2020 at 15:00
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China is now dealing with an outbreak of bird flu after failing to contain the SARS-like coronavirus, which has killed 259 people.

At least 4,500 chickens have been killed by a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 avian influenza - which can spread to humans - at a farm in Shaoyang in the southern province of Hunan.

The authorities have culled and disposed of 17,828 chickens following the outbreak, which was confirmed by Beijing's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs on Saturday.

The farm where the outbreak occurred had 7,850 chickens, said officials, who have sealed off and sterilised the affected area.

According to the World Health Organisation, human cases of H5N1 occur occasionally, but the virus does not infect humans easily.

However, it is difficult to transmit the infection from person to person.

When people do become infected, the mortality rate is about 60 per cent, said WHO.

People can become infected by having close contact with infected live or dead birds, or H5N1-contaminated environments.

WHO said: "There is no evidence that the disease can be spread to people through properly prepared and thoroughly cooked food.

"It is safe to eat properly prepared and cooked poultry and game birds. The virus is sensitive to heat.

"Normal temperatures used for cooking (so that food reaches 70C in all parts) will kill the virus."

Shaoyang is about 350 miles from the central city of Wuhan, where the coronavirus outbreak began late last month.

China's coronavirus death toll jumped to 259 on Saturday, with more than 12,000 others infected.

Around two dozen other countries have reported another 137 cases.

There have been no deaths outside of China. It is thought that the outbreak began at a market in Wuhan, the capital of Hubei province, where live animals and illegal wildlife were sold.

One of the first two people to test positive for coronavirus in the UK is a student at the University of York.

The university said while the news will cause "concern and anxiety among our students, staff, and the wider community", the risk of infection is low.

A spokesman said the student is not believed to have come into contact with anyone on campus while they had symptoms.

The student and another member of their family are being treated at a specialist unit at Newcastle's Royal Victoria Infirmary.

They had been staying at Staycity apartment-hotel in York and were taken to hospital on Wednesday evening.

Public Health England is continuing to work to try to trace people who had close contact - defined as being within two metres of the infected person for 15 minutes - with the pair.

The hotel firm has said the apartment involved has been thoroughly disinfected and PHE has been providing support.

More than 80 Britons are spending 14 days in quarantine at Arrowe Park Hospital in the Wirral after they were rescued from Wuhan on Friday. None has shown any symptoms of the virus.

German Health Minister Jens Spahn called for calm as more than 100 Germans and family members landed in Frankfurt, none showing any symptoms of the virus.

Russia announced it would begin to pull out its citizens next week as countries carry out evacuation flights and impose travel restrictions.

British Airways, Virgin Atlantic and several other airlines have suspended flights to mainland China.

Inside China, Hubei province, the epicentre of the outbreak, was under a virtual quarantine, with roads sealed off and public transport shut down.

The World Health Organization, which this week declared the outbreak a public health emergency of international concern, has said global trade and travel restrictions are not needed.

Efforts to contain the virus risk slowing growth in China.

Growth had already fallen in the fourth quarter to a 30-year low of 6 per cent.

Apple, McDonald's, Starbucks and Ikea are among the foreign companies that have closed shops due to the crisis.

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