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Exercise Camellia ensures AFCD is prepared for avian influenza outbreak (with photos)

     The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) today (October 27) carried out an exercise codenamed "Camellia" to review the department's preparedness in case a poultry culling operation is required in response to an outbreak of highly pathogenic avian influenza in Hong Kong.

     The exercise provided a scenario for staff of departments that need to take part in the culling operation to familiarise themselves with the work procedures and biosecurity measures necessary for carrying out the operation, such as procedures for wearing and removing protective gear as well as the disinfection and disposal of carcasses.

     A field command centre and a mock chicken farm were set up at the exercise venue for participants to carry out their frontline duties, which included mobilising staff and resources, setting up different operation areas in the index farm, and following personal biosecurity guidelines when entering and leaving the index farm.

     Accompanied by the Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation, Dr Leung Siu-fai, the Acting Secretary for Food and Health, Professor Sophia Chan, and the Permanent Secretary for Food and Health (Food), Mrs Cherry Tse, observed the frontline operations.

     Professor Chan stressed the importance of putting in place the contingency response plan to ensure the AFCD's preparedness and readiness in case a culling operation in Hong Kong is necessary.

     "Avian influenza outbreaks still occur in different parts of the world from time to time. In addition to H5N1 and H7N9, there were cases of other types of avian influenza as well. In view of this, we must not take it lightly.

     "While the Government continues to implement diligently the prevention and control measures, I urge the poultry trade and the general public to remain vigilant and help guard against the avian influenza virus," said Professor Chan.

     Professor Chan pointed out that apart from rolling forward various prevention and control measures, the Government had also stepped up surveillance before the winter season. These measures include conducting surprise inspections targeting local poultry farms and pet bird shops, the collection of more samples from the wholesale poultry market and retail outlets for tests on avian influenza, and enhanced actions to combat the illegal importation of live birds at boundary control points.

     Some 100 staff members of the AFCD, the Centre for Health Protection of the Department of Health and the Civil Aid Service took part in the exercise. Professor Chan thanked them for their efforts and positive contributions to the smooth running of the exercise.

     The AFCD has notified the World Organisation for Animal Health of the exercise.

Ends/Tuesday, October 27, 2015
Issued at HKT 14:35


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