The announcement two days ago that an environmental sample taken from a Tuen Mun live bird market three weeks ago tested positive for the H7N9 virus has sparked a large scale epidemiological response, and has raised concerns over the time lag in detecting the contamination.
Today Hong Kong's SFH (Secretary of Food & Health) Dr. Ko Wing-man held a press conference to explain the response, and how long the moratorium on live poultry sales must remain in place.
First the CHP transcript of his comments, followed by a Xinhua News Report.
Following is the transcript of remarks made by the Secretary for Food and Health, Dr Ko Wing-man, after the meeting of the steering committee on response level under the Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic today (June 6):
Reporter: How long will the suspension go on and did you discuss at the meeting how the days would be calculated?
Secretary for Food and Health: The meeting decided that local live poultry trade could only be resumed after we have completed the inspection of all local poultry farms as well as all specimens taken from these farms were tested to be negative.
Reporter: How would the days be calculated once a specimen was ...?
Secretary for Food and Health: Normally the 21-day suspension period counts from the date when the specimen was confirmed positive. However, the specimen concerned was taken on May 16 and the 21-day period has already passed. So, we have decided that local live poultry trade could be resumed the earliest when inspections of all local poultry farms are completed and all specimens were confirmed negative.
Reporter: There are criticisms that the Government has overreacted in follow-up actions because there is only one sample found in the retail point. What do you make of these criticisms?
Secretary for Food and Health: I think the explanation given by Professor Yuen Kwok-yung earlier on regarding the characteristics of H7N9 infection is adequate to tell why the Government maintains a very stringent level of surveillance and tight control of H7N9 virus. Whilst the virus is of low pathogenicity in poultry, it is of relatively high pathogenicity when human beings are infected.
(Please also refer to the Chinese portion of the transcript.)
Ends/Monday, June 6, 2016
Issued at HKT 19:13
HK to cull thousands of poultry after fecal sample found H7N9 positive
Source: Xinhua 2016-06-06 19:53:13 [More]
HONG KONG, June 6 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong's Secretary for Food and Health Ko Wing-man said on Monday that all poultry at Cheung Sha Wan wholesale market will be culled on June 7.
The health chief made the announcement after a special meeting following a fecal sample taken from a Tuen Mun retail market tested positive for H7N9 avian flu virus. Live poultry trade has been suspended in Hong Kong.
Ko told media that the government has inspected nine local poultry farms, with all samples tested negative to the virus.
He said that there are 4,500 live poultry at the Cheung Sha Wan wholesale market, the only poultry wholesale market in Hong Kong. All the 270 samples collected there are also negative.
The government will inspect and take samples from the remaining 20 local chicken farms, Ko said, hoping that the results could come out before the Dragon Boat Festive, a Chinese traditional festival, when chickens are in high demand in Hong Kong.
He said the supply of live poultry could be resumed if all samples tested negative. Meanwhile, health authorities will try to trace the origin of the virus