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China Bird Flu: Beijing Reports First Suspected Case Of New Strain

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An official with the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department carries a live chicken to collect samples for testing at the Man Kam To control point at the border crossing with mainland China in Hong Kong, China, on Thursday, April 11, 2013. Authorities in China confirmed 5 more infections caused by the H7N9 flu strain yesterday, and said the virus was found in 14 chicken and duck samples taken from poultry markets in eastern China. Hong Kong?s health department is 'closely monitoring the situat | Getty Images

BEIJING, April 13 (Reuters) - Chinese capital Beijing reported on Saturday its first suspected case of a new strain of bird flu, state news agency Xinhua said, which would be the first time it has been found in a human outside of eastern China.

The seven-year-old child is in a stable condition in a Beijing hospital and samples have been sent to the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention for further tests, the report said.

Two people who have had close contact with the child have shown no signs of being infected so far, Xinhua added.

A total of 11 people have died of the H7N9 bird flu strain since it was confirmed in humans for the first time last month, with 43 infections in all having been reported to date.

Shanghai and the eastern provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui have been the only confirmed locations of infection.

The source of infection remains unknown, though samples have tested positive in some birds in poultry markets that remain the focus of investigations by China and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.

The new virus has caused severe illness in most of the people affected, leading to fears that if it becomes easily transmissible, it could cause a deadly influenza pandemic, though there has been no indication of that happening.

In a bid to calm public jitters over the virus, Chinese authorities have detained a dozen people for spreading rumours about the spread of bird flu. (Reporting by Ben Blanchard; Editing by Daniel Magnowski)

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