Chinese health authorities have issued stern warnings over the H7N9 bird flu outbreak in the last two days, admitting the situation had already affected half of the country and could lead to even more fatalities.
Since January, human deaths and infections from H7N9 have been reported in 16 provinces and municipalities, according to the National Health and Family Planning Commission.
Beijing joins list of mainland cities reporting bird flu cases in humans
While the situation was still “preventable and controllable”, the commission warned in a statement on Tuesday that if the situation was not tightly controlled the virus could spread further.
The virus had killed at least 87 people by February 12, including 79 in January.
It is the highest death toll since the first known human infection in 2013, and most of the cases have been in the Pearl and Yangtze River delta areas.
In the previous three years, January’s death toll had ranged between 20 and 31.
The commission’s statement came one day after it warned provincial health authorities across the country, including Xinjiang and Tibet, of the risks of the latest H7N9 outbreak.