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Olympic Horses to Pass Quarantine
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All horses to participate in the equestrian events of the 2008 Olympic Games will have to go through quarantine before and after entering Hong Kong, the venue of the events.

A senior official in charge of the program said the purpose of the process is to ensure the horses' health.

In an interview with BOCOG's official website in Hong Kong on Tuesday, Dr. York Chow, Secretary for Health, Welfare and Food of Hong Kong Special Administrative Region (SAR) said about 300 horses will take part in the Olympics and some 70 will compete at the Paralympic Games, coming from over 40 countries and regions.

The horses will be subject to a one-week quarantine period in six quarantine centers located in North America, Europe and Oceania (Australia and New Zealand), according to an arrangement made between Hong Kong, the International Equestrian Federation and the World Organization for Animal Health, Chow said, adding that only those horses with health certificates will compete.

Internationally recognized experts will make body temperature, blood and urine checkups to make sure the horses are not infected by any communicable or epidemic diseases.

After entering Hong Kong, the horses will again go through a 10-day quarantine to avoid contact with local horses and infection by any diseases. The Hong Kong authorities will provide each horse with a single shed. There will be five stables, each containing over 50 such sheds. Medical services will be on hand for each stable and serious cases will be treated at a Hong Kong horse hospital.

Dr. Chow expected the medical team to be composed of up to 30 specialists, including some from the Chinese mainland. The participating teams may bring their own veterinarians whom will be issued provisional licenses.

The participating horses are usually accompanied and taken care of by their own stable hands. However, Hong Kong is ready to provide such services if needed, he said.

As far as the horses' forage is concerned, it can either be brought in, provided certificates of inspection, quarantine and health are given by the authorities governing the forage's source.

The horses, if in healthy condition, can conduct training at their respective stables during the quarantine period. In addition, they will be able to train for another week before participating in the Olympic competition.

"Hong Kong is able to extend a high-level veterinarian service, however, to take care of 300 horses in a real challenge," Dr. Chow said.

Dr. Chow, 59, is an orthopedic surgeon by profession and he took up the current post two years ago. He said he felt honored to be involved in the Olympic quarantine work and believed that the Olympic events will help enhance the equestrian industry in Hong Kong.

The tenth Beijing-Hong Kong Economic Cooperation Symposium will be held in Hong Kong on November 15. The website took the opportunity to conduct the interview intended to update on Hong Kong's preparation for the equestrian events.
(BOCOG November 15, 2006)

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