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JAKARTA (JP): Provincial administrations are being urged to follow Jakarta in banning backyard poultry, as two more bird flu deaths were reported Sunday in Garut regency, West Java.

A 20-year-old woman died at Slamet Hospital in Garut at about 1 a.m., followed by a 9-year old boy at 4:30 p.m.

“Let’s use this as a reminder for all of us to keep poultry away from people,” the director general of communicable diseases at the Health Ministry, I Nyoman Kandun, told The Jakarta Post .

“Other provincial administrations should follow the Jakarta administration in its effort to keep poultry away from people. Our message is still the same: keep poultry as far away as possible from people and homes,” he said.

Kandun said the deep-rooted tradition of people living near their poultry made it difficult for the government to stop the spread of the virus from birds to humans.

“Our biggest concern is still that the virus could mutate into a form where human-to-human transmissions are easy,” he said.

Officials have confirmed that the woman who died early Sunday had contact with dead chickens before becoming infected with the H5N1 virus.

Health officials said the woman, who was also suffering from pneumonia, was too sick when she arrived at the hospital for doctors to help her.

West Java Health Agency head Yudi Prayudha said the woman showed the classic bird flu symptoms of difficulty breathing and a high fever.

The 9-year-old boy was referred to Slamet Hospital on Saturday evening. However, his family brought him home at about 3 a.m., before health officials convinced them to return the boy to the hospital later Sunday morning.(Alvin Darlanika Soedarjo/Yuli Tri Suwarni)

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