H7N9 virus

Nanjing chicken vendors shocked by sudden closure of stalls over bird flu

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 07 April, 2013, 5:44am

Chicken traders in Nanjing, Jiangsu province, voiced shock after authorities closed their stalls, without warning or mention of compensation, because of the latest bird flu outbreak.

Cao Xiaoyan, a vendor in the Zijinshan wholesale market, said the government closed the market abruptly at 6am.

"We had no warning," Cao said. "Suddenly the authorities arrived and shut down the market. The government didn't say anything about compensation. They didn't even offer to give us a medical check-up. I don't know when we can resume trade."

She said business had dropped by more than two-thirds, from daily sales of 6,000 to 8,000 live chickens, since the H7N9 flu outbreak began. "Look at the 1,800 chickens I have here. They almost cost 40,000 yuan [HK$49,500]," she said.

Another chicken vendor said he would relocate to Hebei province if trade did not resume soon. He said a poultry cull in Shanghai could have wider impact because chicken supplies came from the northeast.

Meanwhile, vendors in Shanghai appeared satisfied after city officials on Friday offered to pay more than half the market price for each culled bird.

"We are not going to argue with the government over that amount," said one vendor.

Local authorities counted the number of slaughtered birds for each vendor, promising to compensate them at an unspecified future date.

Even after sales resume, Shanghai residents may continue to shun chicken and other poultry products.

"I think the virus is still far away from us," said Zhang Zhichun, a 60-year-old Shanghai resident. "To play it safe, my family will stop eating our favourite food, chicken."

Shanghai government spokesman Xu Wei said city officials would publish guidelines on vendors' compensation.

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Click on each balloon for more information on individual patients infected with the avian flu virus: blue, patients infected with the H7N9 virus under treatment; red, those infected with H7N9 who have died; and pink, those infect with the H1N1 avian flu virus.