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Villagers test negative for H5N1 virus
By Teddy Ng (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-02-03 07:04

HONG KONG: Preliminary laboratory test results were negative for the three people who had been in contact with a dead chicken infected with the H5N1 bird flu virus, the Centre for Health Protection (CHP) announced yesterday.

Chickens for sale are displayed at a market stall in Hong Kong. [AFP]
The three people a 42-year-old man, his 78-year-old mother and his younger sister, none of whom was identified were admitted to Princess Margaret Hospital on Wednesday for medical observation in isolation wards.

The centre has put them under close medical surveillance. "The CHP will monitor the development and remain on high alert," a spokesman said.

The three people live in Yuen Tuen Shan Village in Sha Tau Kok.

Meanwhile, officials from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) inspected 26 villages including Yuen Tuen Shan and persuaded villagers to give in their poultry. But they got only 10 chickens from a few villagers.

Department senior veterinary official Ho Chin-ho admitted that it was difficult to persuade villagers to give up the chickens as the law requires only those who keep 20 birds or more to obtain a licence.

"Some of the villagers refused to give us the poultry," Ho said. "I hoped the villagers would be more co-operative."

Legislators called for legislation to require villagers to render their poultry when asked.

"Some of the chickens may have been infected, but the people keeping them are unaware of that," said agricultural and fisheries sector legislator Wong Yung-kan. "The government should propose legislation to solve the problem."

Legislative Council food safety panel chairman Fred Li said the government could provide an economic incentive to the villagers.

Mai Po Nature Reserve and walk-in aviaries across the territory under the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had also been closed to public.

Mai Po manager Lew Young said H5N1 tests conducted on birds in the area were negative. Young said that since 2003 they had tested 16,000 samples in collaboration with the University of Hong Kong and found no H5N1 virus.

Officials from the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department also stepped up sterilization in a park in Muk Lun Street, Wong Tai Sin, where a wild bird called a crested mynah was found infected with the virus. A notice was posted in the park, asking the public not to have contact with the birds.

Another dead bird was also found in another park in Wong Tai Sin. The AFCD said officials had collected it for testing.

(China Daily 02/03/2006 page1)

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