New H7N9 bird flu deaths reported in China

China has reported two new deaths from the H7N9 bird flu virus, state media said, as the disease returns following an outbreak last year.

A 75-year-old patient, identified only by her surname Li, died this month of the virus in a hospital in Hangzhou in the eastern province of Zhejiang, the government-run news portal zjol.com.cn reported Tuesday.

Another patient, 38, in Zunyi in the southwestern province of Guizhou died on January 9 after experiencing symptoms of coughing and dizziness a month ago, the Xinhua news agency said late Monday, citing .

Doctors said it was a suspected H7N9 case two days after his death, the report said.

The H7N9 outbreak began in China in February 2013 and reignited fears that a virus could mutate to become easily transmissible, potentially triggering a pandemic.

Cases and deaths dropped significantly after the end of June, but have begun to pick up with the onset of winter.

The reports came after Guangdong province in the south last week reported China's first death from the virus this year.

Official statistics compiled by China's show that by the end of October 2013 there had been 45 deaths in the outbreak on the mainland, which began in February.

Hong Kong has reported two deaths from H7N9 so far this year.

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