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China's premier urges poultry markets to shut, bird flu fears grow

Staff Writer |
China's Prime Minister Li Keqiang urged local authorities to shut down live poultry markets in places affected by the H7N9 bird flu virus which killed 79 people in January.

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Chicken prices sank to their lowest level in more than a decade last week and concerns about H7N9 deepened after global health authorities said the strain had evolved into a more severe form for birds.

China has detected an evolution in the H7N9 virus that is capable of causing severe disease in poultry.

Premier Li Keqiang, who hosted a weekly cabinet meeting on Thursday, highlighted the rising death toll and asked local provincial leaders to close poultry markets as soon as infected birds were discovered.

The statement said China would increase monitoring of bird flu and the transportation of live poultry.

The evolution of the virus may mean the disease will become more apparent in some flocks if birds begin to die, making detection and control easier.

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