Bird flu virus claims Chinese woman's life

By Oscar Rousseau

- Last updated on GMT

In 2014, Hong Kong culled thousands of chickens after the H7 strain was found
In 2014, Hong Kong culled thousands of chickens after the H7 strain was found
A woman from the southern Chinese city of Shenzhen has died after she became infected with the deadly H5N6 bird flu strain, Hong Kong’s Health Department has said. 

The 26-year-old woman was admitted to a hospital in Shenzhen but died several days later. The Hong Kong Health Department made the announcement on Wednesday 6 January, but said the woman had died during the previous week.

Hong Kong has not placed any restrictions on imports of Chinese poultry, but the woman’s death has put Hong Kong – which shares its border with Shenzhen – on a high health alert. Millions of people from China are expected to pass through Shenzhen into Hong Kong in the run-up to the Chinese New Year in early February, and chicken is a popular festive meal during the holiday.

Security tightened

Disease detection and preventative measures, including thermal imaging systems used to measure surface temperature on someone’s face, have been installed at border checkpoints between Shenzhen and Hong Kong, and the airport. 

A 40-year-old woman from Guangdong – around 130km from Shenzhen – has also been infected with the highly pathogenic H5N6 bird flu strain, the Chinese government-run Xinhua News Agency has said.

Thousands of chickens were culled and imports of live poultry coming from China were suspended by Hong Kong in December 2014, after the H7 avian influenza (AI) strain was detected.

Vietnam raises alert

Vietnam has also recently raised the bird flu alarm​ after two strains of avian influenza were detected in Chinese citizens in the south-east of the country.

The AI strains H9N2 and H7N9 were detected in mid-December 2015 and Vietnam - which share its northern boarder with China - has since doubled its outbreak surveillance measures.

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