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Hong Kong: Secretary for Food and Health visits Mai Po Nature Reserve (Dec. 14 2010, edited)

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  • Hong Kong: Secretary for Food and Health visits Mai Po Nature Reserve (Dec. 14 2010, edited)

    Hong Kong: Secretary for Food and Health visits Mai Po Nature Reserve (Dec. 14 2010, edited)

    [Source: Government of Hong Kong PRC SAR, View Original Article.]

    The Secretary for Food and Health, Dr York Chow, visited the Mai Po Nature Reserve (MPNR) today (December 14) to see for himself the preventive measures taken to minimise the risk of infection of visitors by the Avian Influenza (AI) virus.

    Dr Chow was briefed by the staff of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) on the management of the visitor facilities and the habitats for wild birds.

    "Although the Government has lowered the influenza response level under the Framework of Government's Preparedness Plan for Influenza Pandemic from 'Serious' to 'Alert', the Government will continue to closely monitor all levels of the live poultry supply chain and the wild bird environment, in order to ensure that the AI risk remains at a low level," Dr Chow said.

    Under the AFCD's wild bird surveillance programme, swab samples are collected regularly in the MPNR to test for the H5 virus. More than 6,100 samples were collected from January to November this year and all tested negative.

    Dr Chow said although overseas studies indicated that the AI risk posed by wild birds in public parks and open waters to humans is low, the public should remain vigilant as the peak season for AI outbreaks is coming with the approach of winter in Hong Kong.

    The Government will continue to closely monitor both the local and global AI situation and to ensure that the necessary precautionary measures are well in place.

    "People should observe good personal and environmental hygiene and avoid contact with wild birds and their droppings. They should clean their hands thoroughly after coming into contact with them," he said.

    With effect from early November, when there is evidence suggesting that Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) virus has spread amongst the wild bird population within the 3-km radius of the MPNR, the Hong Kong Wetland Park (HKWP) and other walk-in-aviaries, i.e. if three or more live or dead birds are confirmed with HPAI virus infection within a period of 10 days in the same area, the MPNR, the outdoor section of the HKWP and other walk-in-aviaries will be closed for 21 days.

    However, the indoor section of the HKWP will remain open to the public subject to implementation of enhanced precautionary measures to prevent potentially contaminated materials from being brought into the indoor area.