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Hong Kong confirms second case of H7N9 bird flu in a week

HONG KONG (Reuters) - Hong Kong has confirmed its second case of the deadly H7N9 bird flu, days after the first, as the virus spreads beyond mainland China, authorities said on Friday night.

The victim, an 80-year-old man from the neighboring Chinese city of Shenzhen, is in a stable condition in a hospital in Tuen Mun on the outskirts of Hong Kong and will be transferred to an isolation facility.

"There is no evidence that this virus can cause sustained human-to-human transmission, so the risk of widespread or community-wide outbreak at this stage is low," said Dr Leung Ting-hung, controller of the Centre for Health Protection. But the city is maintaining its influenza pandemic response level at "serious".

On Monday, Hong Kong's officials said a 36-year-old Indonesian domestic helper with a history of contact with poultry and travel to Shenzhen had been confirmed to be infected with H7N9 and had been hospitalized in a critical condition.

"I don't think at this stage we can find any evidence of any links between the two cases. We have no evidence that they had come into contact with each other," Leung added.

The H7N9 strain killed around 45 of some 135 people it infected in mainland China earlier this year, before appearing to peter out during the summer.

This year marks the 10th anniversary of the outbreak of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, which killed nearly 300 people in Hong Kong and had a significant impact on the city's economy.

(Reporting by Twinnie Siu and Lee Chyen Yee; editing by Andrew Roche)

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