If China needed a deflationary boost (if only for chicken prices which will certainly result in inflation for all other food products, especially after the recent floating pig fiasco fades from memory), it certainly got it with the constantly escalating Bird Flu scare, which has resulted in 13 casualties of the 60 total infections reported so far, a mortality rate which at least to date is double that of the 2003 SARS epidemic, which claimed one in ten of the 8000 people it infected worldwide. What is most disturbing is that after being largely confined to the Yangtze River Delta, and primarily China's Shanghai business hub, the H7N9 epidemic spread to Beijing on Friday when the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a seven year-old child in the capital of Beijing had been infected by the H7N9 bird flu virus, while on Sunday two people in the central Chinese province of Henan were reported infected - the first cases found in the region.
Two people in the central Chinese province of Henan have been infected by a new strain of avian influenza, the first cases found in the region, while the death toll has risen to 13 from a total of 60 infections after two more deaths in Shanghai. One of the Henan victims, a 34-year old man in the city of Kaifeng, is now critically ill in hospital, while the other, a 65-year old farmer from Zhoukou, is stable. The two cases do not appear to be connected.
A total of 19 people in close contact with the two new victims were under observation but had shown no signs of infection, state news agency Xinhua said.
Three more victims were identified in Shanghai, China's business hub, bringing the total number of cases in the city to 24, with a total of nine deaths, state media said.
Three cases have now been reported outside the original clusters in eastern China, including one in the capital Beijing, but there is nothing out of the ordinary so far, the China representative of the World Health Organization said.
"There's no way to predict how it'll spread but it's not surprising if we have new cases in different places like we do in Beijing," Michael O'Leary told reporters. On Saturday, the China Centre for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that a seven year-old child in the capital of Beijing had been infected by the H7N9 bird flu virus, the first case to be reported outside of the Yangtze river delta region in east China, where the new strain emerged last month.
The child's parents work in the poultry trade.
So far the source of the outbreak has still not been isolated, while the Chinese health ministry is doing its best to eliminate fears that the virus spreads from person to person despite a case where the husband of a H7N9 victum was recently infected. From SCMP:
China’s health ministry said on Saturday that there is still no indication of human-to-human transmission of the virus, which has already killed 11 people in Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui.
“That’s a key factor in this situation,” said O’Leary. “As far as we know, all the cases are individually infected in a sporadic and not connected way.”
The husband of a H7N9 victim in Shanghai was recently infected, but O’Leary said there was no cause for alarm.
“If there’s only very rare cases ... That’s different from the ease of transmission from person to person. It’s that ease of transmission that we are concerned about, and there’s no evidence of that yet.”
As always, the government cares only about one thing: avoiding a panic, even if it has no idea what is truly going on.
For those who wish to decide on their own based on the facts (that are publicly released), here is the latest map of bird flu infections and deaths.