January 9, 2014 / 1:27 PM / 5 years ago

RPT-WHO says China has seven more cases of new H7N9 bird flu

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LONDON, Jan 9 (Reuters) - 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 Thursday.

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)

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