POULTRY PROTEST: Members of the Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers and Retailers Association demonstrate outside the Legislative Council chamber yesterday as lawmakers endorse a Government proposal to segregate quail from other poultry in wet markets to prevent an outbreak of bird flu. Secretary for Environment and Food Lily Yam Kwan Pui-ying said the separation could help to minimise any outbreak as there was strong evidence to suggest the virus carried by quail could mutate with that of chickens to create a strain fatal to humans. She said the demands of quail farms and traders should take into account the interests of the public. Bird flu has broken out twice in the SAR. Six people died in 1997. The second outbreak was in May this year when more than two million birds were slaughtered. Billions of dollars have been spent in compensating poultry traders. 'Hong Kong has paid a high price for it,' Mrs Yam said. 'If there is another outbreak, it would affect Hong Kong's reputation and deter tourists from visiting Hong Kong.' Selina Chow Liang Shuk-yee, representing the wholesale and retail sector, moved to oppose the segregation of quails, but was defeated. She said the Government should consider the difficulties of quail traders.