Health authorities in Hong Kong vowed Friday to step up measures to reduce the risk of avian influenza infection among wild birds as 13 dead birds had been confirmed H5N1 positive in the first two months of 2007.
To enhance monitoring of the Bird Garden in Mong Kok, staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department on Friday put up posters and gave out letters to stall owners reminding them to observe sanitary requirements against avian influenza.
An inter-departmental meeting involving government agencies like the Housing Department, the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department had agreed that a concerted effort by various departments should be promptly taken to address the issue.
Currently, staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department inspect pet bird stalls in the Bird Garden three times daily.
Since Feb. 10, pet bird traders have been required to keep health certificates of all imported birds to help health workers trace the origins of the birds and ensure that health requirements are met through import control.
"We have given verbal warnings to several traders and will take prosecution actions if necessary," said Dr. Thomas Sit, Assistant Director of Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation.
Of some 2,660 dead birds collected across Hong Kong to test for H5 virus in January and February this year, 13 were confirmed H5N1 positive.
"However, this rate is similar to the same period of last year when 16 out of about 3,000 birds collected were tested positive," he said.
Since eight dead birds confirmed H5N1 positive were collected in Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok, Dr. Sit said the Government had decided to mount a special cleansing operation in the districts to address public concern.
"Cleansing work has been undertaken throughout the territory and the latest joint operation involving different departments in Sham Shui Po and Mong Kok will be completed within two weeks," he added.