• Reuters


An elderly Hong Kong man died on Christmas Day from bird flu, the government said on Tuesday, the first human infection in the city this winter.

The Centre for Health Protection of the Health Department said the 75-year-old man, who was diagnosed with the H7N9 strain, died on Sunday.

Last week, Hong Kong confirmed the first human bird flu infection for this season after the man, who had recently traveled to China, was diagnosed with H7N9.

South Korea and Japan ordered further culls early last week to contain outbreaks of a different strain of bird flu, having already killed tens of millions of birds in the past month.

At least seven people in China have been infected with H7N9 this winter and two have died.

Hong Kong has been battling sporadic cases of avian influenza in humans since the first outbreak killed six people in the same year.

On the mainland, China’s Xinjiang region has culled more than 55,000 chickens and other poultry following an outbreak of the other highly virulent bird flu, which has infected 16,000 birds, the Ministry of Agriculture said on Tuesday.

The H5N6 strain of the virus was confirmed in Yining, a city of 500,000 people, and has killed 10,716 birds, the ministry said.

It is the fourth flu outbreak among poultry since October and brings the total cull since then to more than 170,000 birds. Flocks are particularly vulnerable to avian flu during the winter months and sporadic outbreaks are relatively common.

Beijing has banned poultry imports from more than 60 countries and said any countries with highly pathogenic cases will automatically go onto that list. Regional authorities in three provinces have curbed live poultry trading in some cities to prevent the spread of the disease.

The last major bird flu outbreak in China in 2013 killed 36 people and caused more than $6 billion in losses for the agriculture sector.

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