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HONG KONG - Rapid avian influenza tests will be implemented on April 11 in Hong Kong to ensure imported chickens are virus-free, the city's Secretary for Food & Health Ko Wing-man made the announcement to the media Monday.
After inspecting a local wholesale poultry market, Ko said Hong Kong and Mainland authorities have agreed to enhance surveillance work of live poultry imported into Hong Kong.
"We will take samples from poultry imported into Hong Kong upon their entry at Man Kam To Control Point for rapid tests of H5 and H7 avian influenza," he said, adding that when these live poultry arrive at wholesale poultry market, "they will be held until the results of the rapid tests demonstrate they are negative (for the viruses). They will then be released to the market for sale."
About 30 samples will be taken from every 1,000 chickens, and results will be released within four hours.
Since 2010, all live poultry and poultry products bound for Hong Kong have been tested for H7 avian influenza, and no cases of the virus have been found so far.
Ko said overnight live poultry storage areas in wholesale markets are protected by nets, an added bio-security measure to prevent wild birds from spreading the virus to poultry.
The H7 virus has always existed in wild birds, but the chance of transmission to human beings by this route is slim, he continued. The H7 virus has been transmitted from wild birds to poultry in the eastern regions of the Mainland recently.
The Hong Kong government will raise the response level from "alert" to "serious" if the virus is detected in poultry or people in Hong Kong, in which case poultry will be culled and Mainland poultry imports suspended.