Hong Kong, China on Bird Flu Alert

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HONG KONG—Chinese authorities in the southern city of Shenzhen, just north of Hong Kong, are still trying to determine how a 39-year-old bus driver contracted the deadly H5N1 virus, otherwise know as bird flu, according to the Chinese-language Sing Tao Daily.

The driver, identified by the surname Chen, died from the disease late last week. The death marks the first fatality from the virus in over a year and has sparked fears of an outbreak ahead of the Chinese New year Holiday, when millions travel across the country.

Health authorities with the Shenzhen Center for Disease Control and Prevention said initial tests confirmed the presence of H5N1 in Chen, the article noted. They are still working to determine whether Chen may have come into contact with wild birds, adding that although the mutated virus is highly pathogenic, it cannot be spread via human-to-human contact.

There is concern, however, that the virus could begin to make its way further into the mainland over the coming months.

Officials in Hong Kong declared a “control zone” last Saturday, banning the import of live and frozen chickens from within a 13-kilometer radius of Chen's home in the Shenzhen area. The ban will be effective until January 21, two days before Lunar New Year.