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Last Updated: Tuesday, 8 November 2005, 12:48 GMT
China offers bird flu insurance
Poultry market in Shanghai
People in Chinese cities will have to pay more than those in the country
A Chinese insurance company is to become the first to start offering a life policy specifically for bird flu.

Minsheng Life Insurance has been given the go-ahead by the China Insurance Regulatory Commission, according to the state-run China Daily newspaper.

The scheme will pay out a maximum of 100,000 yuan ($12,400; 7,000).

People in the main cities will pay 200 yuan for the policy, while those outside only 100 yuan, although for a reduced payout of 50,000 yuan.

The report said the policy would be launched "very soon".

Giant culls

As of 20 October, the H5N1 strain of bird flu had killed more than 60 people out of 118 confirmed human cases across South East Asia since it first hit in Vietnam and Thailand in 2003.

Millions of birds have been culled across the region in an attempt to stem the virus, which has already spread to birds in Russia, Turkey, Romania and Croatia.

The virus remains hard to transmit between birds and humans, but the great fear is that it might mutate to make this transfer more easily, or worse still, be able to move from person to person.

Experts say avian flu is not a food-borne virus, so eating chicken remains safe.

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