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Chinese New Year 2014: Fears of bird flu contagion amid cheer

More than 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made over Spring Festival period

Chinese health authorities have stepped up measures to counter the spread of bird flu, amid fears that the virus could be spread by millions of people travelling for New Year celebrations.

More than 3.6 billion trips are expected to be made over the Spring Festival period, in what is the largest annual human migration on Earth. Health experts have warned that large numbers of people travelling in confined spaces in coaches, trains and aircraft could create ideal conditions for the spread of the flu.

The increase in new cases of H7N9 bird flu accelerated significantly in January. More than 260 cases have been recorded since the first human infection in March last year, with more than 100 within the past month. Around a quarter of cases have proved fatal.


The vast majority of victims so far have had a history of exposure to poultry, usually at live poultry markets, and so far there has been no evidence of the kind of sustained transmission between humans that could lead to a pandemic.

Live poultry markets have been banned in cities in eastern Zhejiang Province, and in Shanghai. The virus has also spread to Hong Kong.