Health chief urges Lunar New Year precautions against bird flu

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:45pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 12 January, 2014, 5:46pm

Food and Health Secretary Ko Wing-man on Sunday urged Hongkongers to take precautions against bird flu during the Lunar New Year, warning them not to visit markets in Guangdong province and east China when they visit their relatives over the holidays.

Ko’s remakrs came after a 29-year-old man in Guangzhou was confirmed to be infected with the H7N9 virus on Saturday.

But the food and health chief said there was no need to ban all live-chicken imports from the mainland.

He explained that the chicken imported to Hong Kong were raised separately from the chickens sold in the mainland.

“So there are no direct grounds to say that the chicken breeding places that send chicken to Hong Kong are questionable because there are problems with the markets in the mainland,” Ko said.

The mainland authorities have taken chicken samples from mainland chicken breeding grounds and tested them for the avian flu. No virus has been found so far, Ko added.

Symptoms of the virus include fever, cough, shortness of breath and severe pneumonia.

According to the World Health Organisation, some precautions include washing hands with soap and water regularly, covering one's nose and mouth when coughing or sneezing, along with ensuring safe preparation of meat by keeping raw and cooked food separate during preparation. Bird flu cannot be contracted from eating well-cooked poultry or other food.