China reports H5N1 bird flu outbreak in Hunan province

BEIJING: China reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Shaoyang city of the southern province of Hunan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Saturday (Feb 1).

The case occurred on a farm with 7,850 chickens, 4,500 of which have died of the bird flu.

The authorities have culled 17,828 poultry following the outbreak. 

China is not alone in trying to tamp down the spread of this virus.

Earlier this week authorities in India started culling chickens and destroying eggs to contain the bird flu virus.

And a different strain – the H5N8 virus – has spread throughout eastern Europe in recent weeks.

A bird flu outbreak in China back in 2013 ended up costing US$6.5 billion in economic losses, according to UN experts.

This latest outbreak comes at a time when China is already grappling with a new coronavirus that has spread across the globe its epicentre in Wuhan city in Hubei province. 

The virus has killed more than 300 in China with more than 14,000 cases confirmed in the country. 

The top Communist Party official in Wuhan, the central city of 11 million people, expressed “remorse” on Friday because local authorities acted too slowly.

The World Health Organization has declared the outbreak a global health emergency, but said it was not recommending any international trade or travel restrictions.

It has since ballooned into a global health emergency with cases in more than 20 countries.

Countries have scrambled to evacuate their nationals from Wuhan, with hundreds of US, Japanese, British, French and South Korean citizens evacuated so far, and more countries planning airlifts.