China’s poultry industry lost 10 billion yuan ($1.6 billion) in the week after the H7N9 bird flu virus began infecting humans, state-run media said on Monday as they sought to discourage panic.
Altogether 60 people have been confirmed as infected and 13 have died in the two weeks since Chinese authorities said they found the strain in humans for the first time.
“The public should somewhat restrain their anxieties to avoid this becoming a disaster for the whole poultry industry,” the Global Times said in an editorial, adding that not eating poultry was “unfair to farmers”.
It called the avoidance of such foods “excessive anxiety” and urged people instead to “demonstrate a collective spirit beyond individualism”.
The number of cases spiked by 20 over the weekend and spread for the first time beyond Shanghai and three nearby provinces, with two cases reported just west in Henan and one in Beijing, hundreds of kilometres (miles) away.
Experts fear the prospect of such viruses mutating into a form easily transmissible between humans, which would have the potential to trigger a pandemic.