BEIJING, Jan. 21 (Xinhua) -- China has ordered beefed-up monitoring and management of live poultry markets after four human bird flu cases were reported nationwide within a month.
The ministries of health, agriculture and the State Administration of Industry and Commerce in a joint circular on Tuesday urged local bureaux to closely work together in supervising and managing live poultry markets, which, according to epidemiological research and experts' analysis, are a key link in human bird flu prevention and control.
Local offices must maintain a 24-hour on-spot supervision of the markets, and once bird flu or suspected bird flu cases are spotted, they must carry out emergency response, epidemiological investigation, epidemic source tracing and isolation of those having close contacts with the fowls to curb the spread of the epidemic, they said.
Localities were urged to close live poultry markets within the urban areas, and disinfect the markets every day if they cannot be shut down.
Local bureaux of the three agencies were also told to launch a daily epidemic surveillance and reporting system and to notify each other and deal with the situation together once epidemics are found.
Three people have died of bird flu and another has been infected in China so far this year. The first death was a 19-year-old woman in Beijing on Jan. 5, followed by a 27-year-old woman in Shandong on Jan. 17 and a 16-year-old male student in Hunan on Jan. 20. A two-year-old patient surnamed Peng was still receiving treatment in Shanxi.
The country has warned of an even more challenging situation in preventing the disease from spreading in face of a mass migration, mostly of migrant workers and students, for the traditional Spring Festival, or lunar Chinese new year, which falls on Jan. 26.