Category: Tech / Sci / April 2, 2013 3:34 PM EDT
China reported four new cases of a strain of bird flu on Tuesday (April 2) that was previously unknown in humans that has now killed two people, raising the total of known cases to seven.
The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Monday there was no evidence that the H7N9 strain could be transmitted between people, but that it was investigating the outbreak.
The four new patients in China's eastern Jiangsu province were all in critical condition and receiving emergency treatment, the Xinhua News Agency said, citing the Jiangsu provincial health bureau. A woman who caught the virus in early March is also in critical condition.
At a news conference, Wu Fan, Director of the Shanghai Centre for Disease Control, said that currently the best option was to do whatever was necessary to prevent the virus from spreading.
She added that for the moment the source of the virus is yet to be determined.
"So far, because of the limitation of infected cases in the domestic sphere, we can still not make it clear and announce it correctly whether it's humans infected by a poultry virus or a poultry virus that has become a human flu virus through a sudden gene change or recombination. Now the centre for disease control is an organization running on a national level and some relative research institutes are still doing analysis and research on it to make it more clear what sort this virus belongs to."
Some Chinese people have complained the authorities took too long before announcing the deaths on Sunday, though the WHO says the government acted properly.
China has a bad record when it comes to dealing with bad news, which is often covered up by officials fearing it may affect promotion prospects and cause unwanted attention from higher up, despite government efforts to enhance transparency.
In 2003, Beijing initially tried to cover up the epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome. SARS emerged in China and killed about a tenth of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide.
Video Source: Reuters