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XINHUA (China), BBC NEWS (UK), BLOOMBERG, REUTERS

Worldcrunch

SHANGHAI - Chinese authorities slaughtered more than 20,000 birds and closed a poultry market in Shanghai on Friday, due to the new H7N9 bird flu outbreak that has already killed six people over the past week.

State news agency Xinhua said the Huhuai market for live birds in Shanghai had been shut down and birds were being culled after health officials detected the H7N9 virus -- a form of avian flu not before seen in humans -- in pigeons at the market.

Six people have died in this latest outbreak, including four in Shanghai, BBC News reports. Although it is still unclear how the victims caught the disease, there is no sign yet of human-to-human transmission.

The news sent Hong Kong shares tumbling to a four-month low on Friday, on worries that the outbreak could cause an epidemic and hurt the local economy, according to Bloomberg.

The H7N9 virus brings back fears of widespread outbreak in China: In 2003, Chinese authorities initially tried to cover up an epidemic of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), which emerged in the country and killed about 10 percent of the 8,000 people it infected worldwide, Reuters recalls.

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