In the month of January, China reported 7 human H5N1 infections, and 4 deaths. At least one other fatality was strongly suspected.
Over the past several months there have been dissident reports, and denials by the Chinese government, of large outbreaks of bird flu in poultry around that country.
Leading scientists in Hong Kong and on the mainland have openly voiced concerns that poultry in China may be harboring the H5N1 virus asymptomatically - the infection possibly being hidden by the poultry vaccine they use.
All the while, the MOA (Minister of Agriculture) has denied that China's poultry industry has a serious bird flu problem.
A few recent blogs (in case you missed them) on the situation include:
Today, we get word via China News Wrap that officials plan to close live poultry markets in all large and medium-sized cities across China over the next year.
This, as you might imagine, is a huge step.
Purchasing live birds at the market, and having them slaughtered while the buyer waits, is ingrained into many Asian cultures. It assures the purchaser that the bird looked healthy before slaughter, and that the meat is fresh. Convincing a skeptical public to accept these edicts won't be easy.
One gets a sense of how seriously the Chinese government takes the bird flu threat when you see these sorts of plans being considered.
The Sina news portal has a headline news story about plans to shut live poultry markets in all large and medium-sized cities throughout China, to prevent the spread of Avian flu.
According to the news story, the Ministry of Agriculture has stated that the spring and winter are the two peak periods for the spread of Avian flu. The two main weak links in prevention of the spread of Avian flu are water fowl and live poultry markets. Live poultry markets - especially free-market style live poultry markets, are extremely difficult to supervise and regulate.
For this reason, in order to reduce the possibility of human infection, there is a high likelihood that live poultry markets in China’s large and medium-sized cities will be shut this year. At present, Beijing has already permanently shut its main poultry market.
The Ministry of Agriculture has also announced its measures for the inspection of potential Avian Flu outbreak areas. Once the Ministry of Health receives notification of human infection, the Ministry of Agriculture will immediately send inspection teams and teams of experts to perform work in the relevant area, as well as perform full inspections of all poultry farms and markets within a three kilometre radius of the place of residence of the patient.
I've gone to the original source of this story and have machine translated the Chinese text to English.
January 2009, in Beijing, a woman died because of bird flu, becoming the first case this year. Following many years ago after the SARS epidemic, Beijing has once again aware of the people, the epidemic once again distance themselves so near.
The two associations, the National People's Congress, Peking University School of Public Health Dean Wang Longde talk about public health emergencies, said the country will be full training next year Doctor of Public Health. The face of the spring period of high incidence of bird flu yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture said that this year to be at large and medium cities in the closing down of all live poultry markets in order to reduce people, poultry contact.
■ Department of Agriculture shut down live poultry markets a wide range
This year's two sessions on avian flu prevention and control and other security issues has also become a public health representatives, members of the focus of attention.
Yesterday, the Ministry of Agriculture, the winter and spring are the high incidence of avian influenza period, in order to reduce people's risk of bird flu this year in large and medium-sized cities will turn off as much as possible live trading market.
At present, Beijing has been permanently shut down live poultry market city.