First Finding of Bird Flu Virus Closes Macau's Live Bird Markets

MACAU - After the first chicken in Macau tested positive for an H7 avian influenza virus, an import ban has been imposed, leaving live bird traders awaiting government compensation.
calendar icon 14 March 2014
clock icon 4 minute read

The government has issued a 21-day import ban on poultry following the report that a sample taken from chickens tested positive for the H7 virus. This means that the live poultry stall in local markets will no longer be operating, reports the Macau Daily Times.

The newspaper was at the Mercado de Sao Domingos Municipal Complex yesterday (13 March) and saw some staff members cleaning the live poultry stalls with a pressure washer. Workers at the poultry stalls were there to monitor the situation.

One of the workers, Mr Tam, said that they only found out about the incident yesterday morning. He did not know whether he will be paid for this month and believes the authorities will compensate for their employers’ losses.

He said: “How can we survive if the government does not compensate us? We only hope that there will be some money so that we can live.”

The stall worker thinks that since the incident only took place yesterday, the government needs some time to come up with a compensation plan. He also claimed that he was not afraid of bird flu, suggesting that there is no risk if people cook the chickens thoroughly.

Some stall owners in Bairro Iao Hon Municipal Market also told the newspaper that they were waiting for industry representatives to release more information. They hoped that the government will provide them up to MOP1,000 per day for each person in subsidies.

Ms Ng and Mr Wong are the owners of a frozen meat stall in the same market. They talked to the Times and said that sales of frozen chicken wings have risen slightly. Ms U, the owner of another frozen meat stall, said that although she did not see any increase in the sales of frozen chicken parts, she noticed that the chilled chicken stall next to them was selling more chickens than usual yesterday.

Some customers did not know about the import ban until they arrived at the market yesterday. A lady said that she will not buy live chickens because of health concerns, and will switch to frozen chickens. Another market customer said she will wait for the ban to be lifted 21 days later, but did not show concerns about a possible bird flu outbreak.

During a joint-department press conference in the early hours yesterday, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) Administrative Committee Acting President Alex Vong Iao Lek said that the government would decide how to support the poultry industry later, reports Macua Daily Times.

The Macau Poultry Dealers Association has called on the government to subsidize the industry during the 21-day period. Secretary Un Hon Sang of the Association told the newspaper that the import ban affects around 70 poultry stalls in Macau, and around 200 employees have been left temporarily jobless. Some of them are concerned that they will not receive their salaries at the end of the month, hence their hope that the government will provide assistance to their employers.

Mr Un estimated that it will take up to two months for the sales to return to a normal level after the import ban is lifted.

Macau’s live poultry importer, Nam Yue Food Stuff and Aquatics, also indicated that the live poultry market would be impacted by the incident. The importer predicted that consumer confidence will take a hit and estimated a 10 percent drop in sales. However, the impact can only be evaluated after importation resumes, according to the company. Nam Yue will hold a meeting with the government and is communicating with its mainland suppliers.

According to Macau Daily Times, the company has stated that it does not have a stance on issues regarding compensation, and will listen to the opinions of the government and the industry.

Further Reading

You can visit the Avian Flu page by clicking here.

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