Chickens for sale at a live poultry market in Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. (Photo/Xinhua)
China's vice premier, Liu Yandong, on Sunday called for coordinated efforts to prevent and control H7N9 avian flu.
Local departments at all levels should keep on high alert on H7N9 cases and cooperate in prevention and control of the disease. Liu reiterated strengthening epidemic surveillance and early warnings on all infectious diseases as people migrate for the Chinese Lunar New Year holiday.
She also urged improvements in therapy and treatment at grassroots level to reduce the number of critical patients and deaths. "China will strengthen monitoring on live poultry, continue vaccine research and development, tighten international communication and cooperation in epidemic prevention and control, and publicize disease information in a timely manner," Liu said.
The country's National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC) also urged local health departments at all levels to strengthen prevention and control of infectious diseases which occur in winter and spring, and threatened harsh punishment for any wrongdoers.
The NHFPC urged local bodies to tighten supervision in key sites including medical institutions, disease control and prevention centers, schools and kindergartens, and take early measures to deal with risk of epidemic outbreak.
On Sunday, China reported three new human H7N9 cases in east China's Zhejiang province and Guangdong in the south. Zhejiang, which has seen new H7N9 cases for 18 consecutive days with a total of 49 cases, is home to the largest number of human infections among all provincial-level regions this year.
Human cases of H7N9 have been reported in Shanghai, Beijing, Jiangsu, Fujian and Guangdong.
With Lunar New Year the peak season for poultry sales and consumption, some poultry markets in Zhejiang have been suspended to prevent the spread of infection.