World health authorities have flagged concerns about a new strain of avian influenza – H10N8 – that has killed three people in China. The three people infected with the H10N8 strain all had contact with live poultry. Doctors in the region say the virus needs to be closely monitored. Other regions have been sources of new disease outbreaks too but the population density of East and South East Asia lead some to describe it as the “hotspot” for serious new infectious diseases.
On Tuesday, Hong Kong officials said they were extending a ban on live poultry imports from mainland China for four months to guard against H7N9. The city imposed a 21-day ban in January and culled some 20,000 chickens after the virus was found in one batch of imported chickens.
Health minister, Ko Wing-man, told reporters there are plans to set up a facility where imported poultry can be quarantined to ensure they are disease-free before being sent to market. After four months “we will liaise with mainland authorities about the supply of live poultry to Hong Kong”, he said.
Since December Hong Kong has reported five human H7N9 infections, of whom three have died.