HANGZHOU, Jan. 27 (Xinhua) -- H7N9 bird flu has caused 12 deaths in east China's Zhejiang Province alone this year, local health authorities said on Monday.
From Jan. 9 to 26, Zhejiang had new human H7N9 cases on 18 consecutive days. The total number of infections in the province reached 49 by Monday noon, said the provincial health and family planning commission.
Of the 49 cases, 12 people died, one person has recovered fully, and the rest remain hospitalized.
Last spring when the H7N9 virus was active in China, Zhejiang reported 46 human H7N9 cases. Analysis of this year's cases show infections in a wider range of areas than last year. Patients come from 24 counties and 41 of them had contact with live poultry before they tested positive for the virus.
Hospitals have seen more young patients and patients without chronic diseases. In the past two weeks, the number of patients from rural areas has increased.
In November last year, a single inter-human transmission case occurred in Zhejiang. Shortly after a 57-year-old man was hospitalized on Nov. 27, his son-in-law tested positive for the virus. Doctors confirmed that the man had transmitted the flu to his son-in-law who was discharged later in the year after he recovered fully.
According to a guide plan for human H7N9 infection diagnosis and treatment issued by the top health body on Sunday, the majority of human H7N9 infections are sporadic cases and there is no evidence of consistent human-to-human infection.
With Spring Festival being peak season for poultry sales and consumption, poultry markets in cities of Hangzhou, Ningbo and Jinhua have been suspended to prevent the spread of infection.
The provincial capital of Hangzhou is planning to close live poultry trading markets permanently and promote supply chains of frozen poultry products instead, Zhang Hongming, the city's acting mayor told Xinhua.