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Live poultry imported from Mainland tested positive for H7 avian influenza virus

     The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man today (January 27) chaired a meeting of the Steering Committee on Serious Response Level under the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic.  A number of samples from a batch of live chicken imported from a registered poultry farm in Shunde District of Foshan City of Guangdong Province were confirmed H7 positive in the H7 Polymerase Chain Reaction test (genetic test).

     "Since the occurrence of H7N9 avian influenza cases in the Mainland in March last year, Hong Kong has been on high alert and carried out measures to safeguard against the disease. Starting from last April, we have conducted H7 genetic tests on imported live poultry at the boundary control point.  More than 14 000 samples have been tested since then and they were all negative for H5 and H7 viruses. It is the first time that H7 virus was found in imported poultry in Hong Kong.

     "In accordance with the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic on the Serious Response Level, the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Government (HKSARG) has decided to adopt corresponding contingency measures to prevent the virus from spreading in the community and safeguard public health," Dr Ko said.

     Dr Ko said the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has declared the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market as an infected place.  All of the some 20 000 live poultry in the market will be culled starting from tomorrow (January 28) morning.  The market will also be closed for 21 days until February 18 for thorough disinfection and cleansing. During the closure period, trading of live poultry (including Mainland and local live poultry) will be suspended.

     "During the closure of the wholesale poultry market, all local chicken farms will be temporarily banned from supplying live chickens to the market. AFCD officers will inspect all the local chicken farms and collect more samples for testing to ensure that local farms are not affected by H7 avian influenza," he added.

     Dr Ko said according to the consensus reached between HKSARG and the Mainland in dealing with H7N9 avian influenza cases, HKSARG has notified the relevant Mainland authorities for tracing the exact source of infection. The relevant registered poultry farm will suspend supply of live poultry to Hong Kong, while the relevant entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities will conduct investigation and ensure that the farm complies with the biosecurity management requirements. Upon expiry of the 21-day suspension period, the Mainland authorities would conduct surveillance on the relevant poultry farm and notify Hong Kong of the result. Supply from the farm would resume only after both sides are content with the investigation result.

     AFCD, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Centre for Food Safety will also step up their prevention and control measures against H7N9 virus at various levels of the supply chain of live poultry.

     "Besides, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health (CHP) has already conducted relevant epidemiological investigation. The poultry worker responsible for transporting the concerned consignment of live chickens, being a close contact, will be admitted to the Infectious Disease Centre of Princess Margaret Hospital for further testing and observation.

     "CHP will also contact the wholesalers and workers of the Man Kam To Animal Inspection Station and Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market to follow up on their health condition. CHP and the Hospital Authority will remind all doctors in Hong Kong and the medical staff of public hospitals to stay vigilant and should report immediately if there is any suspected avian influenza case," Dr Ko said.

     Dr Ko appealed to the public again to stay alert and maintain good personal and environmental hygiene, including washing hands frequently, wearing masks when feeling unwell, avoiding contact with live poultry or visiting live poultry markets in the affected districts, revealing their travel history to doctors and not bringing poultry to Hong Kong illegally, which are important and effective measures for preventing diseases.

Ends/Monday, January 27, 2014
Issued at HKT 23:58


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