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Key not put off by new bird flu outbreak

Tuesday 9 Apr 2013 7:19 a.m.

Prime Minister John Key

Prime Minister John Key

Six deaths from a new strain of bird flu in China haven't fazed Prime Minister John Key, who is leading a business delegation there.

Authorities in Shanghai have slaughtered tens of thousands of birds after a number of deaths from the H7N9 strain, which has infected at least 21 people.

Mr Key is in Shanghai, leading a delegation of about 100 New Zealand business leaders, government ministers and executives, and a kapa haka group.

He says he has no qualms about being in China at this time.

"I've had no advice that we obviously shouldn't travel," he told media, adding that he has not taken any extra precautions on his trip.

Mr Key emphasized that New Zealanders intending to travel to China should stay updated with Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade advice.

He added that it was "positive" that China was being "very open" with the World Health Organisation, with which it was working closely to contain and find the source of the outbreak.

The first deaths from the virus were not reported by authorities until three weeks after they occurred. Chinese officials said the delay in announcing the results was because it took time to determine the cause of the illness.

China stepped up efforts to halt the deadly outbreak, with state media saying "intense" farming methods had heightened the risk of deadly diseases crossing from animals to humans.

In Shanghai, workers sprayed disinfectant in classrooms, local television showed, while markets were closed to halt the spread of the disease.

NZN

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