January 13, 2014
Hong Kong should immediately stop imports of live poultry from the mainland until a more reliable test for H7N9 bird flu is available, infectious diseases expert Yuen Kwok-yung says.
Yuen's call came a few hours after Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man continued to reject calls for the suspension of poultry imports, despite more human cases of H7N9 in Guangdong.
Yuen said H7N9 is low pathogenic to live poultry, which would not show symptoms after getting infected. Only through the serum test can the safety of imported live poultry be guaranteed.
"If the government does not implement all these measures but continues to allow live poultry imports, we're just taking risks," Yuen said.
Ko said poultry farms supplying Hong Kong are isolated from wholesale and retail markets in the mainland and therefore it is unnecessary to suspend imports.
"Previously I already pointed out that banning live poultry from farms in Shenzhen is already an advanced step as a measure for risk management, because we couldn't trace the source of the first and second patients who contracted H7N9 returning from Shenzhen," Ko said.
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