Hygiene has deteriorated at the government chicken wholesale market as renewed fowl imports begin to strain its capacity, sparking fears of a fresh outbreak of killer bird flu. Carcasses were seen dumped and left exposed, and the floor was covered in chicken excrement. The Cheung Sha Wan temporary poultry wholesale market almost reached capacity yesterday as imports hit 80,000 - about the pre-ban level. It is expected imports will increase to 100,000 a day by early next month. At peak hours, more than 600 workers and operators trade or handle poultry in the market but only four workers are on hand to clean up. Some provisional district board members, who inspected the market yesterday, urged the Agriculture and Fisheries Department to hire more cleaners. They feared the bird flu virus could return to the market, especially when summer arrived. The market is the only authorised place to handle imported mainland chickens under new hygiene rules. It should have been able to handle as many as 100,000 chickens a day, but part of the market is closed for renovation and is not expected to reopen until next month. One wholesaler admitted standards had slipped over the past two weeks, but said: 'Control is bound to become lax when things get back to normal for some time. But I don't think the hygiene here is too bad. No one gets sick.' Senior market management officer Thomas Ng Yeung-shing said yesterday: 'It is now handling 80,000 chickens a day. I think the hygiene conditions are already acceptable.' However, Mr Ng promised improvements and said the Agriculture and Fisheries Department was planning to build a temporary shelter to keep chickens from heat in the summer. At present workers cool chickens by spraying them with water. The birds have to be kept in lorries for about three hours, pending results of their blood tests. Shamshuipo Provisional District Board chairman Tam Kwok-kiu said wholesalers should be required to separate the handling of chicken carcasses from that of ordinary rubbish.