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Nation urges lift of poultry import ban
(China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-17 23:43

China called on other countries Wednesday to lift import bans on poultry and poultry products imposed out of fear of the bird flu.

"We hope that the relevant countries can respect the fact that China has stamped out HPAI (high pathogenic avian influenza) and can lift the ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from China," said Xia Hongmin, director of Department of Animal and Plant Quarantine Supervision under the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Xia made the remarks when briefing diplomats stationed in Beijing on China's prevention of the HPAI.

China removed the last two quarantined areas -- Nanning in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region and Lhasa in the Tibet Autonomous Region from isolation on Tuesday.

China confirmed its first HPAI case in Dingdang, South China's Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region on January 27. By Tuesday, 48 countries and regions had taken measures to stop or restrict the import of poultry and poultry products from Chinese mainland.

Noting the fact that China has effectively controlled HPAI, Xia said his administration is willing to work with other countries and regions to find avenues to resolve the problem.

He also said he hoped for co-operation with countries affected by the epidemic to resume trade interrupted by HPAI.

"The administration will, as it has always done, seriously examine products to ensure the safety and quality of poultry and poultry products exported from China to protect the health of consumers in various countries," said Xia.

Administration sources said that by Tuesday, 21 countries and regions have gradually resumed or continued imports of some poultry products, such as fresh eggs, cooked poultry products and tinned poultry meat.

Still, while declaring "an initial stage success" in controlling the HAPI, the officials and experts suggested that monitoring and preventive measures and cautioning against a relapse of the epidemic be continued.

According to Jia Youling, chief farming expert at the Ministry of Agriculture, the migration of birds as the weather warms up, the fact that the virus can be carried by some aquatic fowl and the presence of the epidemic in neighbouring countries and regions are all reasons for continued watchfulness.

During a Tuesday conference, Vice-Premier Hui Liangyu echoed those sentiments by saying that the public should still be on high alert.

Describing HPAI prevention as a long-term and arduous task, Hui said that the success China has achieved does not mark an end to prevention.

He called for continued epidemic monitoring and reporting, enhanced animal quarantine supervision and medical monitoring and prevention to block the transmission of the disease to human beings.

Since the confirmation of the first HAPI case, China has slaughtered nearly 9 million poultry, rendering a heavy blow to the industry.

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