News

Hong Kong Bans Sale of Live Poultry to Combat Deadly Bird Flu

Prospero LaputKate Pound Dawson

Authorities in Hong Kong, battling the worst outbreak of avian flu in five years, have ordered the slaughter of all live birds in the city's markets and banned the sale of live poultry. In 1997, the city was the first place to report human cases of bird flu.  Although the current outbreak is only in fowl, some critics say the government has acted too slowly. Others say the sale ban is hurting business. VOA's Kate Pound Dawson has this report, prepared by producer Pros Laput in Hong Kong.

Within days after the deadly H5N1 strain was discovered, all live chickens in Hong Kong markets had been killed and imports of live poultry from mainland China were suspended.

"In our surveillance we were able to detect H5N1 in our environment,” said York Chow, Hong Kong's Food and Health Secretary. “We are able to …very quickly show that in four of the markets, that they have very similar virus. And that's the reason why we took very timely action to cull all the chicken and make sure the public is safe." 

China is the main source of Honk Kong's poultry.  The government's order did not apply to sales of pre-slaughtered and packaged poultry.

Infectious disease expert Dr. Lo Wing-lok says the government did not move fast enough.  

"In the past, should there be human cases of H5N1 in Guangdong, all poultry importation from Guangdong will be stopped. But now this no longer stands,” Lo added.

Lo says the government had too much confidence in its system of certifying poultry farms in mainland China. A farm there can send poultry to Hong Kong unless the bird flu virus is found on the farm. 

"This is a big mistake because ... there could be a mixture of poultry from authorized farm and poultry from unauthorized farm all in the name of the authorized farm," Lo explains.

One man's family has sold chickens here for more than 30 years.  He says illegal chickens are being brought into the city to meet the demand for fresh poultry.

A live chicken retailer said, "And with the demand-supply theory, since the price keeps going up, there will be smuggling for sure."

Outside the Legislative Council building, he and other chicken sellers call on the government to produce a policy on imports that will save their businesses.  The government has promised to compensate shop owners whose chickens were confiscated and killed.  

The government says regulations on poultry imports will have to balance health safety with food needs. The ban on live poultry from mainland China is to last for 21 days.  But Lo is worried. 

"I'm worried about the complacency of the government. If the government is complacent on H5N1, the government can be complacent in other infectious diseases .... All these can have a major impact in the community," he said.

The H5N1 virus has killed more than 240 people worldwide, since 2003.  Most caught the disease from sick birds. But experts fear the virus will mutate into a form that is easily passed to humans.  In crowded Hong Kong, that would be a disaster.

 

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs