Bird flu breaks out near the epicentre of deadly coronavirus

An outbreak of bird flu has been identified in a Chinese province neighbouring the epicentre of the deadly coronavirus which has so far killed 305 people.

China reported an outbreak of a highly pathogenic strain of H5N1 bird flu at a farm in Shaoyang city in the southern province of Hunan, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on Saturday.

Hunan borders Hubei, where the majority of coronavirus cases have been confirmed, to the south.

The case occurred on a farm where 4,500 of 7,850 chickens died from the bird flu.

Authorities have culled 17,828 poultry following the outbreak.

Authorities in China pictured dealing with a previous outbreak of bird flu.  Source: Reuters, file.
Authorities in China pictured dealing with a previous outbreak of bird flu. Source: Reuters, file.

According to the World Health Organisation, 455 people have died from H5N1 since 2003, 31 of which have been in China.

The outbreak comes at a time when health authorities are already stretched to their limit as the nation tries to curtail the spread of the deadly coronavirus from the city of Wuhan, where it is believed to have originated at a wet market known to trade exotic wildlife.

Australia has ramped up its precautionary measures to try and halt the growing number of confirmed cases, banning all travellers who have left or passed through China in the previous 14 days.

There have been 12 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Australia so far.

A Qantas plane was in Wuhan early Monday to evacuate the first group from 600 Australians who are trapped in the city.

More than 100 citizens and residents will be taken to Exmouth in northern Western Australia on Monday, before being taken to Christmas Island where they will be quarantined for 14 days.

On Sunday, the first death from coronavirus outside of China was confirmed in the Philippines.

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