SHANGHAI - Two more people have contracted bird flu in Shanghai, China's health ministry said on Saturday, as authorities closed live poultry markets and culled birds to combat a new virus strain that has killed six people.
State-run Xinhua news agency said authorities planned to slaughter birds at two live poultry markets in Shanghai and another in Hangzhou after new samples of the H7N9 virus were detected in birds at the three sites.
More than 20,000 birds have been culled at another Shanghai market where traces of the virus were found this week.
Officials in Shanghai, China's financial hub, closed all the city's live poultry markets on Saturday, emptying food stalls.
All poultry trading was banned in Nanjing, another eastern Chinese city, although local officials said they had not found any trace of the bird flu virus and declared that chicken on the retail market was safe to eat, official media reported.
The new strain of bird flu has infected 18 people in China, all in the east. Six people have died in an outbreak that has spread concern overseas and sparked a sell-off in airline shares in Europe and Hong Kong.