China: Hey, who's up for another virus?

At least this one’s not too novel. And China says not to worry about human-to-human transmission in this case of bird flu. I know I’m relieved to hear that:

A man in eastern China has contracted what might be the world’s first human case of the H10N3 strain of bird flu, but the risk of large-scale spread is low, the government said Tuesday. …

“This infection is an accidental cross-species transmission,” its statement said. “The risk of large-scale transmission is low.”

That may be true of this variant of the bird flu, but other variants have been more problematic. CBS News offers a brief history of avian-human transmission:

The NHC said there had been no human cases of H10N3 previously reported in the world.

Several strains of bird flu have been found among animals in China but mass outbreaks in humans are rare.

The last human epidemic of bird flu in China occurred in late 2016 to 2017, with the H7N9 virus.

The H7N9 has infected 1,668 people and claimed 616 lives since 2013, according to the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization.

Coincidentally, China’s version of the CDC put out a warning about bird flu just last week:

Following recent avian flu outbreaks in Africa and Eurasia, the head of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention last week urged stricter surveillance in poultry farms, markets and wild birds.

Is that a coincidence? Or did they know about this case? If so, why didn’t they disclose it at that time? Or perhaps they had other data which prompted that warning?

Bird flu has crossed over before, and not just in China. On the surface, there’s no reason to suspect that anything else is afoot, or that a new influenza might spread this year, complicating global recovery from COVID-19. Given China’s opacity and misdirection on the origins and emergence of that pandemic, however, it’s tough to put much stock in their explanation of this month-old case and claims that there’s nothing to see here.