A slaughter is underway in Hong Kong. Over 20,000 birds mostly chickens have been destroyed in a bid to stamp out the spread of the H7N9 strain of bird flu.
It is the first time the virus has been discovered in imported poultry in Hong Kong. Imports from the mainland have been banned and all live chicken sales suspended. The island’s wholesale market will remain closed for 21 days.
Twenty people have died from the virus on mainland China this year and two in Hong Kong. The government order comes into effect two days before celebrations for the Chinese New Year.
“It is contagious. It is very scary especially with the New Year approaching. The virus is no small matter,” said one shopper.
Poultry sales in other regions of China have also been banned in advance of the New Year celebrations when millions travel to reunite with family. Many often carry live poultry on crowded trains and buses.
The virus is highly contagious between birds but health officials say it cannot be transmitted human-to-human.