HANGZHOU, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Hangzhou, capital city of east China's Zhejiang Province, announced Thursday that live poultry trading in its main urban areas is halted as of Friday to help contain H7N9 bird flu infections.
In a circular, the city authorities ordered to disinfect live poultry markets in six districts and launched a widespread monitoring over domestic fowl and birds in poultry farms, habitats of migratory birds as well as parks.
The government also banned the flying of carrier pigeons.
Two districts in the suburbs of Hangzhou and Jinhua, another city in Zhejiang, have halted live poultry trading earlier this week.
On Thursday, five new human H7N9 cases were reported in Zhejiang, which has seen new H7N9 cases for 15 consecutive days.
The new cases brought the number of infections in the province so far this year to 37, the most among all regions nationwide, according to the provincial health and family planning commission.
The neighboring city of Shanghai will also halt live poultry trading from the Spring Festival, which falls on Jan. 31 this year, to April 30, each year from 2014.
The city reported two more deaths from the H7N9 bird flu, raising the toll from the deadly virus to four so far this year, its mayor said Thursday, without giving further details.
The city has confirmed eight human H7N9 cases so far this year, Shanghai mayor Yang Xiong told a press briefing.
Human contractions of H7N9 have also been reported in the provinces of Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong.
Li Lanjuan, a leading researcher on bird flu at the Chinese Academy of Engineering, predicted China will see more human H7N9 cases in the future as the virus tends to become more active during winter and spring.
She expressed concerns that the travel rush and mass slaughter of live poultry associated with the Chinese Lunar New Year, a traditional occasion for family reunions, will increase the risk of H7N9 spreading.