Bird stall owners to seek damages for lost trade
Two-thirds of stall owners in Mong Kok's Bird Garden, closed for three weeks after a trace of deadly H5N1 bird flu was found in a stall, say they will ask the government for compensation for lost trade.
Each should be paid between HK$30,000 and HK$40,000, said Shek Kwok-keung, who heads a group of stall operators.
That's despite some traders continuing to do business on Friday. Buyers were seen buying pet food over the wall of the garden, prompting suggestions they might spread the virus, even though stall owners who want to go inside the market have to wear protective gear.
The closure order was apparently being implemented more strictly yesterday, with more uniformed health officers patrolling the area.
In 2007, the last time the government shut the market, it gave traders HK$10,000. Shek did not say why they should be paid more this time.
He said they would seek to discuss compensation with officials this week .
There are 18 stalls in the garden in Mong Kok, with more than 10,000 birds for sale. Most are imported from Malaysia, with some from Taiwan and the Philippines.
It was closed for three weeks on Thursday and more than 1,000 birds were slaughtered.
Some owners said the operator of the stall in which the bird flu was found deserved more compensation because all his birds had to be culled, though Shek said all the owners should be compensated.
Owners and bird fanciers alike said there could be a slump in business following the closure of the garden, as many people would stop keeping birds.
'There's no more fun now. Everybody's gone. Why is it happening to us so often?' said Wong Tai-long, 58, passing the park with his two birds.
The H5N1 virus was detected in a swab sample collected last month from a cage holding an Oriental magpie robin.
However, the Health Department said the risk of transmission to humans 'is not particularly high' as the swab trace was probably from a wild bird that flew into the shop.