Sales and imports were halted for 21 days after a chicken carcase from the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market tested positive for the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus. However, authorities have now completed inspections of Hong Kong’s 30 chicken farms and confirmed that no further cases were found.
Secretary for Food and Health Dr York Chow said: “Local farmers were found to have strictly complied with bio-security and environmental hygiene requirements. No abnormality was found with the chickens. The Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) has also tested about 4,500 samples collected from local farms and all were found negative for H5 AI virus.”
Retail and wholesale sales of poultry have now resumed, as have imports from the mainland, although an import control zone around the Chinese city of Shenzhen remains in place. The control zone was imposed after a 39-year-old resident tested positive for H5N1 in December and later died from the illness.
AFCD said it will continue to monitor the avian influenza situation in Hong Kong and take samples from both farms and the wholesale market. It has also implemented new rules, including a requirement for traders to inform AFCD staff every time a dead chicken is found, so that it can be sent for testing.
However, the department has already had to issue a reminder to wholesalers after a dead chicken without an identifying label was found in the rubbish this morning, just hours after the market reopened.
The chicken tested negative for avian influenza but an AFCD spokesperson urged traders to comply with the new rules and “be responsible and protect public health”. The spokesperson said that it was possible that wholesalers did not yet understand the new requirements and vowed to step up inspections to ensure that all traders comply.