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.
3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Cari
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
George Putic
May 27, 2015 9:31 PM
Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video 3D Printer Makes Replica of Iconic Sports Car

Cars with parts made by 3D printers are already on the road, but engineers are still learning about this new technology. While testing the possibility of printing an entire car, researchers at the U.S. Department of Energy recently created an electric-powered replica of an iconic sports roadster. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video US Voters Seek Answers From Presidential Candidates on IS Gains

The growth of the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and Syria comes as the 2016 U.S. presidential campaign kicks off in the Midwest state of Iowa.   As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, voters want to know how the candidates would handle recent militant gains in the Middle East.
Video

Video A Small Oasis on Kabul's Outskirts Provides Relief From Security Tensions

When people in Kabul want to get away from the city and relax, many choose Qargha Lake, a small resort on the outskirts of Kabul. Ayesha Tanzeem visited and talked with people about the precious oasis.
Video

Video Film Festival Looks at Indigenous Peoples, Culture Conflict

A recent Los Angeles film festival highlighted the plight of people caught between two cultures. Mike O'Sullivan has more on the the Garifuna International Film Festival, a Los Angeles forum created by a woman from Central America who wants the world to know more about her culture.
Video

Video Kenyans Lament Losing Sons to al-Shabab

There is agony, fear and lost hope in the Kenyan town of Isiolo, a key target of a new al-Shabab recruitment drive. VOA's Mohammed Yusuf visits Isiolo to speak with families and at least one man who says he was a recruiter.
Video

Video Scientists Say Plankton More Important Than Previously Thought

Tiny ocean creatures called plankton are mostly thought of as food for whales and other large marine animals, but a four-year global study discovered, among other things, that plankton are a major source of oxygen on our planet. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video US-led Coalition Gives Some Weapons to Iraqi Troops

In a video released Tuesday from the Iraqi Ministry of Defense, Iraqi forces and U.S.-led coalition troops survey a cache of weapons supplied to help Iraq liberate Mosul from Islamic State group. According to a statement provided with the video, the ministry and the U.S.-led coaltion troops have started ''supplying the 16th army division with medium and light weapons in preparation to liberate Mosul and nearby areas from Da'esh (Arabic acronym for Islamic State group).''
Video

Video Amnesty International: 'Overwhelming Evidence' of War Crimes in Ukraine

Human rights group Amnesty International says there is overwhelming evidence of ongoing war crimes in Ukraine, despite a tentative cease-fire with pro-Russian rebels. Researchers interviewed more than 30 prisoners from both sides of the conflict and all but one said they were tortured. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Washington Parade Honors Those Killed Serving in US Military

Every year, on the last Monday in the month of May, millions of Americans honor the memories of those killed while serving in the armed forces. Memorial Day is a tradition that dates back to the 19th Century. While many people celebrate the federal holiday with a barbecue and a day off from work, for those who’ve served in the military, it’s a special day to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. Arash Arabasadi reports for VOA from Washington.
Video

Video Kenya’s Capital Sees Rise in Shisha Parlors

In Kenya, the smoking of shisha, a type of flavored tobacco, is the latest craze. Patrons are flocking to shisha parlors to smoke and socialize. But the practice can be addictive and harmful, though many dabblers may not realize the dangers, according to a new review. Lenny Ruvaga has more on the story for VOA from Nairobi, Kenya.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.

VOA Blogs