Deadly H7N9 influenza reaches city’s borders
Exports of live poultry to Macau are continuing even as wet markets trading live birds in Zhuhai were closed for sterilisation after the H7N9 bird influenza virus killed a 59-year-old man.
The victim – from Zhuhai’s Xiangzhou district – died on Sunday. His death was reported in the mainland media on Monday.
Officials in Zhuhai have not said from where the person contracted the disease.
Macau’s Health Bureau yesterday told Business Daily the man suffered from chronic bronchitis and was a regular visitor to wet markets.
“We expect that there will be more cases of human infection of the H7N9 virus this spring and winter, and we do not rule out the chances that such cases may appear in Macau,” the Health Bureau said.
“We’ve already informed Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau and reinforced the checks for fever at all borders in Macau.
“Any passengers going to or coming from Zhuhai detected with fever, and who have touched live poultry before their departure or arrival, will be immediately sent to Conde de São Januário General Hospital for medical assessment,” the bureau added.
Registered farms in Zhuhai supplying live poultry to Macau will remain open, according to importer Nam Yue Food Stuff and Aquatics Co Ltd and the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau.
“So far, we haven’t received any virus-infected samples from the breeding farms in Zhuhai, or other irregularities with their operation,” a Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau spokesman said.
“The exports from these breeding farms to Macau should remain unaffected.”
The most recent death was the second confirmed instance of the influenza virus in Zhuhai.
Officials reported a sample of the virus strain was found at a live poultry market in Doumen district on January 5.
There are 378 reported cases of human infection from the H7N9 strain in the mainland, and there have been at least 88 deaths.
The Health Bureau says Macau is on a level 3 alert over the outbreak.
The World Health Organization uses a scale of 1 to 6, with level 6 being the most serious – a global influenza emergency known as a pandemic.
MGM China Holdings Ltd chief executive Grant Bowie told Business Daily his company was ready to confront any outbreak of the avian flu virus.
Temperature checks for guests could be introduced and sanitation measures would be stepped up, he said.
“We’ll work closely with the Health Bureau in public monitoring [on the avian influenza],” said Mr Bowie.
Most known human infections from the H7N9 virus result from contact with infected poultry, and a minority of cases appear to have resulted from limited person-to-person transmission, the World Health Organization says.
Business Daily asked Galaxy Entertainment Group about its contingency plan to respond to an outbreak of the avian flu, but did not receive a reply by the time the story went to press.