GUANGZHOU: Poultry of dubious origin has been banned from markets here to prevent a new outbreak of bird flu, officials from the city's administration for industry and commerce said.
The officials said earlier this week that they would step up inspections of poultry in markets and have put several new inspection standards in place.
A vendor holds ducks at a poultry market in Guangzhou on Monday. Media reported a bird flu outbreak at a poultry market in the city on Sunday. [Agencies]
The standards require markets to tag all birds with labels showing their origin. Birds must also have certificates of inspection from inspection and quarantine departments.
Vendors will not be able to sell their fowl without proper documentation.
"Poultry salesmen must mark down all birds' origins, species names, who bought them and how many birds have been sold so as to make it easier for inspectors to monitor the situation," Liu Yong, deputy director of the bureau, said yesterday.
The bureau has forbidden poultry wholesale markets and supermarkets in the city from killing live poultry. All markets must be cleaned thoroughly every day after closing.
In wet markets, each poultry booth must have three separate rooms: one for live poultry, one for butchering and one for sales.
Booths without the three separate rooms will not be allowed to sell poultry.
The administration for industry and commerce has called on people who are working in the poultry sector to get regular health checks to detect infections.
Meanwhile, the city is also mulling the possibility of centralizing slaughtering facilities, Peng Cong, director of the Guangzhou animal epidemic prevention surveillance center, said yesterday.
He said the municipal government is discussing the possibility, and if it is approved, live poultry will be withdrawn from retail markets.
"There are some upsides to withdrawing live poultry from retail markets," Peng said. "For example, few people would have direct contact with live poultry, so the possibility of the H5N1 virus being transmitted between human beings and poultry will be blocked."
"Having poultry centralized in a few places will be better in the event we have to manage an outbreak if epidemic disease."
In Nanhai district, Foshan city, the source of the infected poultry in Guangzhou, "no humans have contracted H5N1 virus so far," He Rucheng, deputy director of Nanhai's agriculture department, said.
He said more than 8,000 birds that have had contact with poultry that died in Guangzhou have tested negative for H5N1.
Back in Guangzhou, poultry sales suffered this week. Some markets have stopped selling fowl altogether.
Jinhua New Market, the site of the bird flu outbreak, has closed all of its poultry booths.
Many residents said they would not eat chicken for the next few weeks.
"I did not have any customers today," a poultry saleswoman surnamed Tang said in Guangzhou. "I am feeding some anti-flu medicine to my poultry, hoping to prevent them from getting sick."
Other vendors said sales had dropped to about a tenth of what they were a week ago.