Via Shanghai Daily: Poultry traders count cost as markets close.
Three new H7N9 bird flu cases were reported in eastern Zhejiang Province yesterday, bringing the total number of human infections there to 47.
Zhejiang, which has seen new H7N9 cases for 17 consecutive days, is home to the largest number of human infections among all provincial-level regions so far this year.
The three patients are a 49-year-old man from the city of Huzhou and two female farmers, aged 48 and 60, from the city of Ningbo. They are all in a serious condition.
These latest cases were announced a day after live poultry sales were halted in Zhejiang due to the resurgent bird flu epidemic.
Poultry traders in provincial capital Hangzhou were left despondent at what should have been the height of the Chinese New Year sales period.
“So many live chickens in cages. How should I deal with them?” said Li Xuemin, a live poultry vendor in the Songmuchang market, as he surveyed his 40 or so birds.
Li has already experienced several rounds of market shutdowns due to bird flu.
City authorities ordered live poultry markets in six districts to be disinfected and launched widespread monitoring of domestic and wild birds.
Hangzhou’s live poultry markets and stalls were closed on Friday. Its two largest live poultry markets, Gouzhuang and Dajiang, had already shut on Wednesday.
Jiaxing Lihua Livestock Co. Ltd, a leading Zhejiang poultry enterprise, had already suffered losses of 22 million yuan (US$3.63 million) in 2013.
“We prepared 3 million chickens for the Lunar New Year market. When the market ban went into effect, there were still over 700,000 live chickens ready to go to market,” said Wang Zewen, general manager with the company.
“While the market is closed, we are doomed to face a great loss,” added Wang.
It is estimated that the ban will affect sales of 10 million live poultry in the province, according to the Zhejiang poultry industry association.
Shanghai will halt live poultry trading from the Spring Festival to April 30.