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HK enhances surveillance on live poultry farms
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The government of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (HKSAR) will enhance inspection and surveillance of the hygiene conditions in all local live poultry farms, as well as wholesale and retail markets after an avian influenza case was confirmed in Guangzhou in south China, a government spokesman announced on Sunday.

The HKSAR government has been notified by the Ministry of Agriculture that the death of chickens in a poultry retail market in Liwan, Guangzhou of Guangdong province, was a confirmed case of H5N1 avian influenza infection, the spokesman for the Food and Health Bureau said.

"Upon the confirmation of the case, the HKSAR government will adopt corresponding measure by suspending the import of live birds, live poultry and poultry products from the zone of 13-kilometer radius of the infected area for 21 days. We come to the decision after making reference to the guidelines set by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the World Organization for Animal Health and assessing the control and prevention of avian influenza as well as the related inspection and quarantine measures in Guangdong Province", he said.

"The import suspension measure is a precautionary measure. Our primary objective is to safeguard public health," the spokesman said.

The Guangdong Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau (GDCIQ) had verified that there are no registered live poultry farms or processing plants for supplying chilled and frozen poultry meat to Hong Kong in the zone of 13-kilometer radius of the infected area.

There are, however, two pet bird farms within the zone of 13- kilometer radius of the infected area. The HKSAR government will suspend the import of live birds from these two pet bird farms for 21 days in accordance with the corresponding measure mentioned above.

The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) will continue to strictly enforce inspection and quarantine measures on imported pet birds.

"The GDCIQ has reaffirmed that no abnormality is detected in chickens in registered farms in Guangdong province. In view of the confirmed avian influenza case, the authorities in Guangdong province will step up control and preventive measures," the spokesman added.

The HKSAR government will continue to maintain close liaison with the mainland authorities and the concerned government departments will step up their preventive and control measures to guard against avian influenza.

The AFCD, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) will enhance inspection and surveillance of the hygiene conditions in all local live poultry farms, as well as wholesale and retail markets. The FEHD would step up the testing of mainland live chickens, the spokesman said.

The HKSAR government would also strengthen its enforcement actions against the public bringing live poultry and poultry meat into Hong Kong illegally, said the spokesman.

(Xinhua News Agency, March 17, 2008)

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