The American doctor is in, to do a bird flu check-up

Hong Kong is paid a visit by Dr Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor in the US. Other stories: Spotify, iPhone 5, smog and ArtWalk

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 21 April, 2013, 9:11pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 29 August, 2013, 4:13am

As the avian flu outbreak spread on mainland China last week, Hong Kong was paid a visit by Dr Richard Besser, ABC News’ chief health and medical editor in the US. He was curious to see how the city was preparing for a possible H7N9 outbreak, and what he found was mostly reassuring, he said.

He talked to Food and Health Secretary Dr Ko Wing-man and checked out a poultry screening facility on the Hong Kong-mainland border.

A team of around 15 agricultural workers wearing white coats, rubber boots, surgical gloves and face shields descended on the truck. One worker cut off the seal that had been placed on the door to the truck at the poultry farm in Guangdong province. Then with the speed and precision of an army drill team, they went to work.

They selected 30 chickens at random from the thousand or so in the truck. Each bird had the same fate: a sample of blood was drawn; a cloacal swab was obtained; and the bird was returned to its cage. The whole operation from the time the truck pulled in to when it departed with a fresh seal took no more than 30 minutes. By law, the seal cannot be removed until at least five hours later, when the rapid testing for H7N9 is completed.

Spotify, finally

In a tech-obsessed city such as Hong Kong, why is it that we are sometimes late to the table?

Spotify, the hit online music-streaming service, arrived last week, after debuting in Stockholm more than four years ago and amassing more than 24 million users worldwide. The Li Ka-shing Foundation was an early investor, no less.

CNet reports that Spotify’s biggest competitor in Asia is music piracy.

“Piracy is very big in Singapore, Malaysia and Hong Kong, we know that. And Spotify was founded to actually be a more convenient alternative to piracy. So we are here to combat piracy," said Sriram Krishnan, the company's head of new markets for Asia Pacific.

But the city did come first in something tech-related. Probably the world’s only US$15.3 million iPhone will go to an unnamed Hong Kong businessman. The custom-built phone is encrusted in gold and precious gems, including a black diamond at 26 carats, and took nine weeks to produce, according to the designer.

That’s something to boast about. Right?

Other coverage, April 14-21

Arts and culture

In photos

  • German photographer Jens Fersterra features Hong Kong at night.