HEFEI, Feb. 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese cities have stepped up control of the live poultry trade as the number of human H7N9 bird flu infections continues to rise.
Health authorities in east China's Anhui Province on Saturday reported a new human H7N9 infection. A teenage girl was diagnosed in a hospital in Huaining County, Anqing City on Friday. She is in stable condition.
Anhui, along with Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, are the worst-hit regions for the deadly bird flu. Anhui reported one death from the virus on Monday, triggering concerns about more human H7N9 cases in the country in the near future.
There have been more than 120 human H7N9 cases reported in China so far this year, and at least 32 deaths, according to the health ministry's official tally earlier this week.
Poultry trade has been considered a primary source of human infection for the virus, as most of the diagnosed patients had close contact with poultry.
On Saturday, Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province, banned all live poultry markets for two weeks. The ban will be in effect until Feb. 28 as part of the government's new effort to curb the spread of the H7N9 virus.
Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, announced on Saturday it would permanently stop live poultry trade in the city proper. The measure had already been in place as a temporary ban since Jan. 24, a week before the Spring Festival, China's lunar New Year.
The notice issued by the municipal government Saturday specified that the live poultry ban covers both birds sold for meat and as pets. Two of the city's outlying districts will be allowed to decide whether to lift the ban three months later.
The notice said that the city will set up more designated poultry slaughterhouses to ensure the supply of frozen poultry products.
Chicken and duck dishes are among the most favored foods in China's eastern and southern regions. The catering industry has been severely dampened by the spread of bird flu.
A popular Korean TV series, "Which star are you from," has partly helped to make up for the industry's losses. Restaurants in Hangzhou saw a surge in fried chicken sales during snowy weather this month as fans of the drama imitated the show's heroine, who eats fried chicken with beer during the first snow of the year.