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Health officers cull poultry at a wholesale market, as trade in live poultry suspended after a spot check at a local street market revealed the presence of H7N9 bird flu virus, in Hong Kong June 7, 2016. REUTERS/Bobby Yip


BEIJING (Reuters) - The rate at which human cases of bird flu are being reported in China is declining, health authorities said on Thursday, vowing to stiffen controls on markets and transport of live poultry to battle the spread of the virus.

Eight new human infections of the H7N9 avian flu were reported between Feb. 12 and Feb. 14, indicating the rate of new cases had clearly declined compared with the week of Feb. 6 to Feb. 12, when 69 new cases, including 8 deaths, were reported, the National Health and Family Planning Commision said on its website.

To fight the spread, the commission is advising authorities to take stronger measures to monitor the virus, suspend or permanently close live poultry markets and tighten curbs on transport of the animals, it said.

(The story was refiled to correct the dates of the recently reported cases in the second paragraph)

(Reporting by Christian Shepherd; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)