Poultry From Guangdong Banned

CHINA - Hong Kong yesterday imposed a 21-day ban on imports of live and frozen poultry from H5N1-infected farms in Panyu District, Guangdong Province.
calendar icon 18 September 2007
clock icon 4 minute read

Secretary for Food & Health York Chow made the announcement last night after the Ministry of Agriculture confirmed the outbreak of H5N1 virus in Panyu's duck farms.

Guangdong Provincial authorities yesterday culled 100,000 ducks within three kilometers of duck farms in Panyu.

The ban would affect 20 out of 94 poultry farms in the infected area where it was reported that about 10,000 ducks had died in the outbreak since early September.

Chow said the ban would cover imports from farms within a radius of 24 kilometers of the H5N1-stricken town of Xinzao in Panyu.

He, however, said the outbreak was an isolated case as there was no more outbreak in the vicinity.

As precautionary measure, the authorities have extended the quarantine area from the usual practice of eight kilometers to 24 kilometers.

The government would also suspend imports of frozen duck and goose eggs for a week from Guangdong, said Chow.

The government would also cancel its decision taken last Friday to increase imports of live chicken from 20,000 to 70,000 a day during the Mid-Autumn Festival, he added.

The Food & Environmental Hygiene Department will step up surveillance of imported food in Man Kam To and increase communication with Guangdong authorities, said Chow.

He also added that further action would be taken if the outbreak spreads to other parts of Guangdong or if human infection is reported.

With the 200,000 chicken in local stock plus supply from the rest of Guangdong, there will be enough supply to meet demand during the festival, he said.

Hong Kong Poultry Wholesale & Retail Association chairman Steven Wong estimated that the trade would incur a loss of more than HK$10-million as a result of the ban.

Trade of live chicken will be hardest hit because chickens are more popular with the local residents than ducks or geese, he said.

A chicken stall can sell up to a hundred live chickens a day but only 10 frozen ducks or geese.

About 20,000 live chickens are imported daily from Guangdong Province, the source of more than 90 percent of Hong Kong's poultry imports, he said.

The daily imports of frozen chicken as well as frozen duck and goose is more than 100,000 and 30,000 respectively.

Only 400,000 local live chicken will be available and the trade is quite worried that this would be insufficient for the festival demand, he said.

He estimated that during mid-autumn Hong Kong would need more than 300,000 chickens.

As there will be less supply after the ban, the live chicken wholesale price would rise from HK$22 a catty to more than HK$30 a catty. The retail price would be at least HK$40 a catty.

Infection diseases expert Lo Wing-lok said the government should ban imports of poultry from the entire Guangdong Province for a few days.

He said bird flu is rare among ducks because they are tolerant to bird flu virus.

Bird flu could occur to ducks because they have lower immunity from in-breeding, and there may be a mutation of virus.

He asked people to be careful in handling live ducks or duck eggs for the duck egg shell can still contain virus, he said.

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