Pet traders in the famous Yuen Po Street Bird Garden complained of rock-bottom sales yesterday amid growing fears of bird flu returning to Hong Kong. There were still many visitors to the Mongkok market, a tourist hot spot, but very few went away with birds. 'Life is very difficult for us now,' said 60-year-old trader Chan Sun-ho, who has more than 400 birds in stock. 'I used to sell four to five birds a day, but now I can sell only one or two.' Like many of the 70 traders in the garden, Mr Chan imported most of his birds from the mainland, where it was confirmed on Wednesday that 2,600 birds in Inner Mongolia had been infected with H5N1. Taiwan confirmed its first case of the H5N1 strain on Thursday after samples from a batch of cage birds smuggled in from the mainland to feed the pet trade tested positive for the virus. Trader Wong Chiu-lam said his sales of birdcages had plunged by 80 per cent. He urged the government to take decisive measures to help his trade. 'The government can temporarily close the market while compensating us, and maybe reopen it when public confidence rebounds,' he said. But Ho Ying-koo, who had a stock of more than 1,000 birds, said the bird flu scare had had no effect on her business. Kwun Tong resident Simon Chu and his wife came to look at birds in the garden. Mr Chu said he felt safe just taking pictures of the birds, but Mrs Chu was nervous. 'I saw them [bird traders] eating lunch beside the birds. I am not getting too close [to the birds] and won't stay here for too long,' she said. Australian tourist Adrian Gore was not bothered by the bird flu scare. He said he would consider buying birds from the garden if he could take them back to Australia. 'There are so many diseases around the world anyway. If you are going to catch them you are going to catch them,' he said. A woman who was one of the few bird buyers yesterday afternoon left with two parrots costing $300. 'I am a little scared, but I've been keeping birds for a long time,' she said. Donald Lam Ping-kuen, a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, said regular tests were being conducted on birds for sale in Mongkok. In other news: Choi Kin, president of the Hong Kong Medical Association, called for stricter monitoring of travellers' body temperature at border checkpoints; Pharmacies in Mongkok were selling the antiviral Tamiflu without requiring prescriptions, TVB news reported; The agriculture department said a round of territory-wide inspections of poultry farms would be completed within the next two weeks; and A Chinese-language newspaper reported that poorly maintained safety nets at some Hong Kong farms were proving inadequate in isolating chickens from wild birds.