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Hong Kong today banned chicken imports from mainland China in its battle to stop a killer "bird flu," and a woman suspected to have contracted the virus died of pneumonia, officials said.

Authorities said some chickens on sale in Hong Kong were found to carry the H5N1 virus strain of influenza and said they might have come from the mainland.

In the past, the flu was associated only with birds but has killed two children and a 54-year-old man this year. Six other people have contracted the virus. A 60-year-old woman, the latest person health officials suspected of being infected with the bird flu, died today.

Chicken sales have plummeted in the past two weeks as more people are found to be infected with the H5N1 strain. It is still unclear whether the virus is being transmitted human to human or directly from chickens to humans.

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