Authorities in eastern China have banned live poultry sales after an increase in the number of people infected with the H7N9 strain of bird flu.
The official Xinhua News Agency says so far this year H7N9 has killed 19 people in China and infected 96. A week ago, more than 50 cases had been reported. The virus is believed to pass to humans through direct contact with infected birds.
Xinhua says live poultry trading has been halted in three cities in coastal Zhejiang province, where 49 cases and 12 deaths have been reported. The province also is inspecting farms and banning flights of domestic pigeons.
Neighboring Shanghai will halt live poultry trading for three months starting Friday. The city has reported eight infections and four deaths this year.
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