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Tuesday, April 9, 2013 - 9:08am
CNN — HONG KONG (CNN) -- China's bird flu crisis showed no sign of easing Tuesday, as another person was reported to have died from the virus, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported.
Four new cases of H7N9 avian influenza were reported Monday -- two in eastern China's Jiangsu Province, one in neighboring Anhui Province and another case in Shanghai, where the patient died.
This brings the total number of people infected in the country to 24, with seven deaths, according to China's National Health and Family Planning Commission.
The virus had been found in pigeons, but had not previously been discovered in humans until a series of cases were reported in China last week.
In Shanghai, where five people from 11 reported cases have now died, more than 100,000 live birds have been killed in the past week at live-poultry markets across the city in an effort to contain the problem, the Shanghai Municipal Ministry of Agriculture said. A number of cities across China have also announced trading suspensions.
During a press conference in Beijing on Monday, World Health Organization (WHO) and Chinese health ministry officials moved to reassure the public about the outbreak, saying they would continue to jointly monitor the behavior of the virus.
"Although we do not know the source of the infection, at this time there is no evidence of sustained human-to-human transmission," said the WHO's Michael O'Leary.
Liang Wannian, director of the H7N9 influenza prevention and control office under the National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), told reporters that 621 close contacts of infected patients had been monitored with no reported abnormalities.
Meanwhile, Chinese Vice Premier Liu Yandong called for further efforts to prevent both the spread of H7N9 infections and the treatment of patients after visiting the country's disease control center on Monday, Xinhua reported.
She also urged more transparency in information about the virus and said any new infection should be discovered, reported, diagnosed and treated as early as possible. She added that President Xi Jinping and Premier Li Keqiang were paying close attention to the crisis.
In 2003, during the SARS outbreak, Chinese authorities were accused of acting slowly and concealing the extent of the problem in an effort to ease fears about the spread of the epidemic.