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Hong Kong Residents Unfazed By City's First H7N9 Avian Flu Case

Hong Kong residents say they are not worried about buying poultry after the city confirms its first human case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu. 2013-12-03 01:46 AM EST
Poultry stall at the Causeway Bay Market in Hong Kong.
Hong Kong residents on Tuesday (December 3) said they were unfazed a day after the city confirmed its first case of deadly H7N9 bird flu in a further sign that the virus is continuing to spread beyond mainland China's borders.

A 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper in Hong Kong has been confirmed infected by H7N9, the government announced late on Monday (December 2).

She had a history of contact with poultry and travel to Shenzhen in mainland China, just north of Hong Kong.

The World Health Organization said in October that the H7N9 virus strain that emerged in China last winter has already killed at least 45 and infected 137.

Although Hong Kong has experienced a few bird flu scares before -- including one in 1997 when six people died from the H5N1 strain and 1.3 million chickens were culled -- Hong Kong residents on Tuesday continued to buy poultry.

Butchers at two wet market stalls wore gloves, but not face masks while they swiftly slit chickens' throats.

Ada Hui, a housewife who visits the market every day, said she was not worried.

"No, I won't (eat less chicken). As long as you thoroughly cook your food, there won't be a problem for sure. If you don't thoroughly cook food, you will get sick, it doesn't matter if it's poultry, pork or other food," Hui said.

Another housewife, Veronica Mak, brought her one-year-old infant with her to do her shopping.

"I'm not (worried). I think if you pay attention to your personal hygiene and be more careful, it'll be okay," Mak said.

The infected woman has been hospitalised and is in critical condition at the Queen Mary Hospital, local media reported.

The case coincides with the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 300 people in Hong Kong and had a significant impact on the city's travel and retail industry.

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