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LONDON Jan 9 Seven more people in China have
been found to be infected with a potentially deadly new strain
of bird flu in the past week, bringing total H7N9 cases so far
to around 150, the World Health Organisation (WHO) said on
Six of the seven people are in a critical condition in
hospitals in various parts of China and the seventh is also
hospitalised but in a stable condition. Four of the new cases of
infection are in men and three are in women, the United Nations
health agency said in an update on the disease outbreak.
H7N9 bird flu emerged last year in China and has infected
around 150 people so far there and in Taiwan and Hong Kong,
killing at least 45 of them.
Experts say there is no evidence as yet of any easy or
sustained person-to person transmission of the strain.
But an early scientific analysis of probable transmission of
the new flu from person to person, published last August, gave
the strongest proof yet that it can at times jump between people
and so could cause a human pandemic.
A separate team of researchers in the United States said
last month that, while it is not impossible that H7N9 could
become easily transmissible between people, it would need to
undergo multiple mutations to do that. Scientists around the
world are keeping a watchful eye, on alert for any sign the
virus might develop such potential.
The WHO said the source of the human infections is still
under investigation. It stressed it does not advise any special
screening for people going in and out of China, nor does it
recommend any travel or trade restrictions.
(Reporting by Kate Kelland, editing by Gareth Jones)