Review of anti-rodent work in 2022
A spokesman of the EEB said that since the establishment of the current-term Government in July last year, the EEB, with its policy functions expanded, has launched various new measures to actively tackle environmental hygiene black spots, combat shop front extension and promote anti-rodent work. The work included supporting the Deputy Chief Secretary for Administration to launch the Government Programme on Tackling Hygiene Black Spots in August, expanding the trial scheme of combating shop front extensions in various districts across the territory in October, putting forth the preliminary proposal of raising the level of fixed penalty for offences such as waste disposal and shop front extensions under the Fixed Penalty (Public Cleanliness and Obstruction) Ordinance (Cap. 570) and as well as launching the "Cross-sectoral Territory-wide Anti-rodent Action" in December.
For rodent control, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) continued to carry out the territory-wide anti-rodent campaign and anti-rodent operations in designated target areas in 2022. It set up 19 overnight rodent control teams in July; and launched a trial scheme in November 2022 to allow licensed food premises to place large-size waste containers at rear lanes for temporary storage of waste until collection by the cleaning workers hired by the food premises. The Code of Practice for Rodent Management and Checklists for Anti-rodent Work were published in the year. New anti-rodent methods and technology were also put into trial use in the second half of 2022, including the trial use of Ekomille and glue traps, and also a wider application of T-shape rodent bait boxes.
Through a multi-pronged approach, the total number of dead rodents collected and live rodents caught by the FEHD from July to December last year was 42,114, around 20 per cent more than that of January to June (35,118), and around 18 per cent more than that in the corresponding period in 2021 (35,812). The number of live rodents caught has remarkably increased since the formation of overnight rodent control teams. The number of live rodents caught during the second half of the year was 27,728, an increase of around 57 per cent over that in the first half of the year (17,694), and around 50 per cent more than the corresponding period in 2021 (18,459).
Targeting the rodent problems in markets and fixed-pitch hawker areas, the FEHD has continued to implement deep cleaning operations at its markets and extended the intensive anti-rodent operations to all markets and fixed-pitch hawker areas. Between August and December last year, the number of dead and live rodents removed from public markets was 8,026, which was around 56 per cent more than the corresponding period in 2021 (5,156). In addition, the FEHD and the Electrical and Mechanical Services Department launched a pilot scheme in Yeung Uk Road Market, Tsuen Wan to deploy wireless motion sensors, rodent traps, bait boxes, etc. through the application of Internet of Things solutions, so as to step up the monitoring of rodent prevention and control work in markets, and carry out focused improvements and follow-up work.
The FEHD has introduced a new licensing condition in fresh provision shops (FPS) licences to strengthen the regulations on their handling of meat and poultry. As at the end of December 2022, around 2,300 licences (about 80 per cent of the licence concerned) were covered and the rest of the licences will also be covered not later than the end of April this year. The new licensing condition stipulates that unless prior written approval for an alternative arrangement has been obtained from the FEHD, all fresh/chilled/frozen meat or poultry to be delivered to the licensed FPS for sale, no matter whether the meat or poultry is prepackaged, must be directly delivered into the premises, and at no time be left or kept outside the premises (including any street, pavement, alley, passageway, and space) pending further handling or sale. Even if an alternative arrangement is approved, the meat or poultry must at all times be properly kept and protected to prevent from the invasion or contamination by the ambient environment or pest.
On enforcements, the FEHD has issued a total of around 42,000 fixed penalty notices and initiated around 1,900 prosecutions last year, targeting situations such as causing poor environmental hygiene conditions, food preparation and scullery at rear lanes, and improper storage of articles and illegal dumping of refuse.
The Home Affairs Department and the FEHD also worked in concert last year, with the former providing over 490 times one-off cleaning services to the common parts of some 480 "three-nil" buildings, and the latter stepping up street cleaning and pest control services at public places in their vicinity. Trial scheme of including anti-rodent services in the one-off cleaning services to the common parts has been launched in four districts (Sham Shui Po, Yau Tsim Mong, Sha Tin and Southern) and it will also be rolled out in the Kowloon City district in February this year.
For public housing estates, the Working Group on Rodent Prevention and Control in Public Rental Housing Estates under the Housing Authority held five meetings last year. Apart from implementing more intensive rodent control measures at 80 targeted housing estates, the Housing Department, together with the FEHD and district stakeholders, conducted about 250 joint cleaning operations.
Anti-rodent effort has been stepped up since grave problem of rodent infestation was found near Tip Sum House in Butterfly Estate, Tuen Mun in October 2022. Multiple anti-rodent trial measures were launched, including the use of mobile digital closed circuit television system with built-in motion detection sensor to detect rodent activities, the use of QR codes to be scanned by mobile phones during patrols to input information into forms recording numbers of rodents and rat holes, and upload photos to the database. With the anti-rodent operation largely completed in mid-November last year, the mobile digital closed circuit television system had not detected any rodent at the concerned spot for around 47 days. As at January 11 this year, 371 rodents were caught.
With the experience gained, the Government launched the "Cross-sectoral Territory-wide Anti-rodent Action" on December 28,2022 to encourage all sectors of the society and members of the public to collaborate with the Government to collectively strengthen anti-rodent work and create a more liveable environment for Hong Kong. The lists of anti-rodent practices based on information shared by stakeholders from various sectors have been uploaded to the thematic homepage (www.eeb.gov.hk/food/en/our_work/eh2.html).
The spokesman stressed that effective rodent prevention and control hinges on sustained co-operation between the community and the Government. Various sectors and relevant government departments will continue to consolidate past anti-rodent works, including promoting the Code of Practice for Rodent Management and the Checklists for Anti-rodent Work, as well as conducting publicity and educational activities on rodent prevention and control. The public is encouraged to participate in the anti-rodent actions and prevent rodent infestation by eliminating the three survival conditions of rodents, namely food, harbourage and passages, meaning the elimination of the food sources and hiding places of rodents, as well as blockage of their dispersal routes.
Ends/Friday, January 13, 2023
Issued at HKT 20:41
Issued at HKT 20:41