The World Health Organization is warning that time is running out to contain the spread of deadly bird flu in China.
Julie Hall, a Beijing-based WHO infectious disease expert, says the latest news from the world's most populous country strongly suggests that a brief window of opportunity to stop avian flu, in her words, "is getting smaller with each passing day."
The assessment comes a day after China confirmed outbreaks of the lethal H5N1 virus among farm birds in two more provinces, Hubei and Hunan. It also announced new suspected infections in China's largest city, Shanghai, and the provinces of Anhui in the east and Guangdong in the south.
Earlier in the week, China confirmed an outbreak in the southern province of Guangxi, which borders Vietnam, a country hard hit by bird flu.
The disease is now in nine Asian countries. So far eight people have died. All had direct contact with infected birds.
Experts say they most fear that bird flu could mutate into a strain that is capable of being passed between humans and cause a global pandemic.
Information for this report is Reuters and AFP.