Food hygiene officials have promised to consider paying compensation to chicken traders who have reported business losses of up to 60 per cent because of the latest bird flu scare. The move came after officials faced threats by some chicken traders to free live chickens outside Government House today in protest against the government's ban on live chicken sales and its rescheduling of market cleanup day. In a meeting with food and environmental hygiene officials yesterday, poultry sector representatives demanded cash compensation of up to HK$60,000 for stallholders. They also want the government to waive rents at their market stalls for at least three months. Steven Wong Wai-chuen, chairman of the Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers and Retailers Association, voiced frustration at a decision to halt live chicken imports, which would affect many livelihoods. 'There are 3,000 people working in the trade,' he said. He said some operators had seen business fall by 60 per cent and deserved to be adequately compensated. But Hong Kong Poultry Wholesalers Association chairman Tsui Ming-tuen said: 'The government has shown its sincerity by considering compensation. We would ask fellow traders not to take radical action.' Mr Tsui said he had heard that some traders in Tuen Mun and Yuen Long were threatening to release live chickens outside Government House in Central today to vent their anger at the rescheduling of the market cleanup day to today, instead of Wednesday as was scheduled. All chicken traders were asked to cull all their live chickens before noon today for a city-wide market cleanup. The monthly market clean-up day was introduced in 2001 as a means to prevent bird flu. The bird flu scare erupted again on Saturday after the H5N1 virus was detected in chickens at Po On Road market in Sham Shui Po. Some 2,700 chickens there were culled. Officials warned the slaughter could be extended to all live poultry in the city if the virus was detected elsewhere. An immediate 21-day ban on live poultry imports from the mainland has also been imposed, and an investigation launched to track down the source of the infection. Mr Tsui said wholesale prices had dropped from the usual HK$16 a catty (HK$26.40 per kg) to HK$11.50 a catty (about HK$19 per kg) yesterday. Food and Environmental Hygiene Department deputy director Alice Lau Yim said after yesterday's meeting with chicken traders that she would convey their demands to the Food and Health Bureau for its consideration. Poultry stalls at Po On Road market remained closed yesterday. One chicken vendor in the neighbourhood, Cheung Sing, 56, said he felt helpless. 'We have no say but to obey what [Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok] said. 'We are just small fry. I am worrying about how to support my living and what to do if I cannot sell chickens,' he said.