Meeting the Bird Flu Threat
I feel very good about how Hong Kong is responding to the Bird Flu threat. Others must share my confidence since we are not experiencing the Fellini-esque look we saw during the SARS crisis when millions of people donned surgical masks.
The government has started a voluntary culling of birds from “backyard” poultry farming. Some villagers who evidently fear the loss of their chickens more than the loss of their lives have resisted. The government expects to pass a fast track ordinance outlawing these kinds of farms within a month. They’ve also promised to crack down on people smuggling live poultry in from the mainland where the chicken that recently died came from.
It boggles my mind that someone would risk their life and the health of their family to save a little money and a longer trip to the nearest wet market but this is what people were saying about why they bought live chickens across the border. At least, the family that had the infected chicken reported its death to the authorities. Thankfully, none of the family was infected.
Evidently Bird Flu has been identified as killing some wild birds so the Mai Po Marsh Park has been closed for now.
As usual, authorities on the PRC side of the border contend that there is no H5N1 infected birds in Guangdong Province in spite of the fact that the dead bird came from Guangdong Province. These are the same people who covered up the SARS outbreak and continued to deny its existence until a local doctor finally blew the whistle, for which he has been punished. Some things never change.
Nevertheless we can feel good about how the Hong Kong authorities are handling the issue. They evidently have learned from the past.