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China invites WHO team for H7N9 probe
April 17, 2013, 8:53 am


The WHO team will go to the infected areas to assess the outbreak and transmission mode of the influenza [AP]

Update – China confirms five new cases

From 8 p.m. Tuesday to 5 p.m. Wednesday, China confirmed five new cases of human H7N9 avian influenza infection, including one in Shanghai and four in Zhejiang Province.

The National Health and Family Planning Commission said in its daily update on H7N9 cases that a total of 82 H7N9 cases have been reported in China, including 17 that have ended in death.

A mission from the World Health Organisation (WHO) is scheduled to arrive in China within the next few days to assess the new strain of bird flu, H7N9, in the country, WHO said on Tuesday.

WHO spokesperson Glenn Thomas said given that the sources of the virus were still unknown, further human infections were expected, reaffirming “at the moment there are no signs of on-going human to human transmission.”

WHO officials will support China’s response to the emergency, Thomas said.

China has confirmed 77 human infection cases and 16 deaths across the country as of late Tuesday.

WHO announced China had invited a team of experts from the United States, China, the European Union and Australia who would  carry out a one-week joint assessment of this deadly disease in the country.

The team will go to the infected areas to assess the outbreak and transmission mode of the influenza, investigate technical characteristics of the virus itself such as source, reservoir and pathogenicity, and guide further prevention and control measures.

Silvano Sofia, spokesperson of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), told reporters that the FAO was working closely with Chinese authorities to develop a market chain analysis to trace the sources of infected poultry back to the farms of origin to identify other infected farms.

Sofia added that in light of recent events, the FAO was reevaluating surveillance protocols in domestic and wild animals.

The spokesperson also commended the Chinese authorities’ decisions to release virus information to the public and their agreement to share the virus information with the international community.

“The virus sequence released has allowed scientific communities to perform further analysis and to be better prepared for diagnosis and production of human vaccines,” she said.