SHANGHAI, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- Five new human H7N9 cases were reported on Thursday in east China's Zhejiang Province and another in Shanghai Municipality, according to local health authorities.
Zhejiang has seen new human H7N9 cases for 15 consecutive days since Jan. 9. The new cases brought the number of infections in the province so far this year to 37, the most among all regions nationwide, said the provincial health and family planning commission.
The ages of the 37 patients in Zhejiang range from 20 to 79.
The new patient in Shanghai is a 61-year-old local woman surnamed Qin. She was confirmed to be suffering from the H7N9 strain of bird flu on Wednesday and is being treated in a local hospital, said the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Health and Family Planning.
Shanghai on Monday reported the death of two H7N9 avian flu patients, including a medical worker.
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 concerned that the travel rush and mass slaughter of live poultry associated with the Chinese Lunar New Year, which falls on Jan. 31 this year, will increase the risk of H7N9 spreading.
With the festival being the peak season for poultry sales and consumption, some poultry markets in Zhejiang have been suspended to prevent the spread of infections.
Experts from the Zhejiang provincial center for disease control and prevention warned local residents to stay away from live poultry and to maintain good hygiene habits as close exposure to live poultry carries high infection risks.