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SFH on result of H7 PCR tests of imported live chickens

     Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, at a media session on result of H7 Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests (genetic testing) of imported live chickens at the lobby of West Wing, Central Government Offices, this morning (December 31):

Reporter: (On the testing result of samples from a consignment of imported live chickens)

Secretary for Food and Health: On December 30, the Government found in a consignment of imported live chickens a number of samples tested positive in H7 avian influenza (AI) serology tests, whilst all swab samples collected from the same consignment of live chickens were tested negative in H7 Polymerase Chain Reaction tests. According to our risk management mechanism, we collected 120 additional swab samples from the same consignment of live chickens to conduct PCR tests. Shortly before now, the results were back. A number of samples were tested positive for H7 AI. Accordingly, we kicked off a number of public health measures to prevent the risk of spreading of H7N9 virus.

     Firstly, the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has declared the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market as an infected place. It will be closed for 21 days. This will mean that supply of live poultry from the Mainland will also have to be suspended for the same period of time. After the 21-day suspension period, the index registered farm of this particular consignment of poultry has to be verified that it is safe in terms of bio-security measures before resuming supply of live chicken to Hong Kong.

     AFCD will also arrange to cull all the live poultry, around 15 000 in total, in the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market, starting this morning.

     AFCD will then conduct inspections and collect additional samples for testing from all of the 29 registered live poultry farms in Hong Kong to ensure that they are not affected by H7 AI. We will then channel the local live chickens to the Ta Kwu Ling Checkpoint before they could be dispatched to the retail points.  

Reporter: (On whether the Mainland authorities could step up their inspections at poultry farms)

Secretary for Food and Health: Hong Kong Government is always in very close collaboration with the relevant Mainland authorities. Our Mainland counterparts have been doing a lot in terms of safeguarding the health of live poultry to be supplied to Hong Kong. In fact, the supply chain of live poultry for Hong Kong is entirely segregated from other live poultry on the Mainland. You are right that this is not the first time that we have detected a positive H7 AI specimen from the live poultry supplied from the Mainland. This time is special. It is the first time that we have utilised the serology tests which helped us in detecting a batch of live poultry affected by H7 virus.    
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)  

Ends/Wednesday, December 31, 2014
Issued at HKT 09:23


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