Live poultry imports have been “suspended” by the Hong Kong authorities as a preventative measure to control the spread of avian influenza (AI) in the country.
The suspension follows a positive test for H7N9 virus in the faecal droppings of live poultry from Yan Oi Market in the Hong Kong city of Tuen Mun.
A spokesman for the county’s Food and Environmental Hygiene Department (FEHD) said the faecal droppings of live poultry were taken from a poultry stall in Yan Oi Market on May 16 and were revealed to have tested positive for H7N9 on June 4.
The department duly announced that, in line with Hong Kong’s AI contingency plan, the trading of live poultry will be suspended pending follow-up investigations to trace the source of the virus.
Supply of chickens from local farms have also been suspended with inspections to be carried out on all local chicken farms. Importing live poultry is also suspended with the incident due to be officially notified to the World Organisation for Animal Health.
“We are very concerned about the finding of H7N9 virus in a sample gathered in the middle of May from a stall in Tuen Mun,” said Hong Kong Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man (pictured above), speaking at a public function on June 5.
“At present, the various concerned departments still need to gather more information to facilitate their investigation. One of the major objectives, of course, is to trace, if possible, the source of the positive specimen; whether it actually came from a local poultry farm or from the Mainland.
“We know that at present, the supply of live poultry from the Mainland stays at a very low level. However, we still cannot make a 100% conclusion of the source of H7N9 virus in that particular specimen.”