Mainland poultry could be allowed into market before results of bird-flu tests

Mainland birds could be allowed into Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market while awaiting bird flu tests under new contingency plan.

PUBLISHED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 8:19pm
UPDATED : Monday, 24 February, 2014, 8:19pm

Live poultry from the mainland would be allowed back in the Cheung Sha Wan Temporary Wholesale Poultry Market before the results of their bird-flu tests were known, under a new government plan.

If any were to test positive for the virus, local farmers would be told to send their poultry to a back-up facility while the market was closed for disinfection, said Secretary for Food and Health Dr Ko Wing-man.

The government still needs to find the back-up facility for the local birds, but Ko said this could be done in four months or less. Until then mainland live poultry would still be banned.

Previously, the government had wanted to find a separate site to hold mainland chickens while awaiting the test results before sending them to the market, but Ko said setting up such a facility could take more than a year.

“While mainland poultry are awaiting test results in Cheung Sha Wan, we will try our best not to let local live chickens leave their farms,” said Ko after meeting poultry importers yesterday.

“If mainland live chickens test positive for the bird flu virus and chickens have to be culled, at least the number of local chickens culled would be reduced,” he added.

Poultry Wholesalers Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen, who has been urging the government to resume live poultry import as soon as possible, said the contingency plan offered a possible solution.

However, local chicken breeder and trader Cheng Chin-keung thought it was wrong to allow mainland poultry into Hong Kong before they were cleared of bird flu.

He urged the government to stick to its original plan to find a separate site for mainland poultry.

Ko said the government had not given up on its original plan, but would work on the contingency plan first.