Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 21 October 2014

Taiwan alert after bird flu death

Commuters wear masks at a subway station in Taipei, Taiwan (AP/Chiang Ying-ying)

Taiwan has heightened surveillance of travellers from China after authorities confirmed the island's first case of a deadly new strain of bird flu.

The 53-year-old man became ill with fever after returning from a visit to the eastern Chinese province of Jiangsu on April 9, the Centres for Disease Control (CDC) said.

He twice tested negative for H7N9 but eventually tested positive on Wednesday after his condition deteriorated, CDC official Chang Feng-yi said.

He said authorities will step up screening of visitors from China at airports for signs of fever and other ailments. News reports said Taiwanese airlines will suspend providing chicken and duck meals from China.

China and Taiwan have close trade and economic ties. An estimated one million Taiwanese live on the mainland. Many Taiwanese laptop and other electronics makers have operations in Jiangsu province, where the first case of H7N9 was confirmed on March 31.

About 6,000 Chinese tourists visit Taiwan every day.

H7N9 has infected more than 100 people in China, making most of them seriously ill and killing around 20, mostly near the eastern coast around Shanghai.

The virus appears to spread more easily from birds to humans than the one that killed people in Asia a decade ago, the World Health Organisation said.

Scientists are watching closely to see if it could spark a global pandemic although there is little evidence to show the virus can spread easily from human to human.

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