An 80-year-old man has become the first victim of the H7N9 strain of bird flu to die in Hong Kong.

The man's death is the first since the virus resurfaced in the region in early December. He was only the second person in Hong Kong to be diagnosed with the infection.

The unnamed man was originally from the neighbouring Chinese city of Shenzhen. He had eaten poultry, possibly purchased from a wet market, before travelling to Hong Kong for diabetes and heart treatment at Tuen Mun Hospital.

"Even though this is the first fatal case in Hong Kong, it does not mean that the risk of H7N9 has increased," University of Hong Kong microbiologist Dr Ho Pak-leung told the South China Morning Post.

The other person diagnosed with the virus in Hong Kong was Indonesian domestic helper Tri Mawarti, who also came into contact with poultry at a Shenzhen market before entering Hong Kong.

It was reported that Mawarti handled live poultry in a Shenzhen wet market.

A total of 143 H7N9 bird flu cases have been reported in mainland China, Taiwan and Hong Kong, with more than 40 deaths as a result.

In 2002, an outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (Sars), spread from Guangdong province in China to Hong Kong, infecting over 8,000 worldwide and killing 744.