BEIJING, April 6 (UPI) -- Nanjing has suspended trading of live poultry as China steps up efforts to prevent the spread of a deadly new strain of bird flu, officials say.
It's the third city in China to ban live birds from the city, CNN reported Saturday. Shanghai and Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang province, have taken similar actions.
Shanghai officials closed three poultry markets and banned live birds from the city.
The H7N9 virus has killed six people, four of them in Shanghai, the BBC reported.
The Chinese state news agency Xinhua said at least 18 cases of the virus had been identified in China by late Saturday, all in the eastern part of the country. The World Health Organization has confirmed 16.
Officials began slaughtering 20,000 birds in Shanghai Thursday after the virus was found in pigeons sold at a market.
H7N9 has not previously been found in humans. The World Health Organization said there is no evidence the virus is transmitted between humans.
A group of experts have been sent to Shanghai and three other provinces by the National Health and Family Planning Commission to assist in preventing an epidemic, Xinhua reported.
China plans to step up efforts to trace and manage those who may have had close contact with potential virus carriers.