A last-ditch attempt by some legislators to overturn controversial bird flu measures recently imposed by the government on poultry traders has failed. A resolution from lawmaker Albert Chan Wai-yip of the League of Social Democrats to overturn the measures was vetoed after a three-hour debate was held over two days. Opponents of the proposal, including many of Mr Chan's colleagues in the pan-democracy camp, warned that there was no room for risks when it came to public health, although they said they appreciated the difficulties the trade faced. Backers of his proposal, including some from the usually pro-government Democratic Alliance for the Betterment and Progress of Hong Kong, argued that the latest curbs on the poultry trade were too harsh and threatened the viability of the sector. Mr Chan said the government had exaggerated the bird-flu threat. 'It wants to create public panic, as [US] President [George W.] Bush did after the September 11 attack,' he said. 'And then the people will support the government in taking whatever radical measures it wants.' The Frontier's Emily Lau Wai-hing said: 'Public health is very important. We cannot be too careful. But there is a need for the government to address the problems the sector faces after the new measures are in place.' Similar views were shared by fellow pan-democrat Ronny Tong Ka-wah, of the Civic Party. Mr Tong asked: 'Should we put people's health at risk because some people say they want to buy live poultry, or because of the need to protect the interests of one sector?' Both Ms Lau and Mr Tong voted against Mr Chan's resolution. Secretary for Food and Health York Chow Yat-ngok said the measures - including banning the keeping of live chickens overnight at retail stalls - had run smoothly since they went into place on July 2 and he believed the trade had started adapting to them. 'On average, there are about 34,000 chickens on sale in markets every day, roughly 70 to 80 per cent of the previous level of 40,000. And 407 retail outlets are operating ... Retail prices range between HK$25 and HK$30 a catty [604 grams], more or less the same as in the past,' Dr Chow said. He said the most effective way to minimise the health risks posed by bird flu was to reduce as much as possible the contact between humans and live poultry. Poultry Wholesalers and Retailers Association chairman Steven Wong Wai-chuen yesterday said he was disappointed that Mr Chan's proposal had failed, although the result had been a foregone conclusion. The city went on the alert over bird flu last month after the detection of the deadly H5N1 avian influenza virus in samples taken from four retail markets. Investigation by health officers failed to find the source. There were suggestions that the virus had arrived in the city in a chicken smuggled from the mainland.