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Bird Garden to reopen tomorrow

     The Yuen Po Street Bird Garden in Mong Kok, which was temporarily closed to the public for 21 days on July 5 following the detection of the H5N1 avian influenza virus in a swab sample collected from a bird cage holding Oriental magpie robins at a pet bird shop, will be reopened tomorrow (July 26). Test results showed that the H5 gene of the sample belonged to clade, which is the same clade as the isolates from the dead wild birds detected this year.

     "Since July 5, a total of 124 swab samples were collected from the Bird Garden and they all tested negative for H5N1. During the period of closure, all birds kept in the pet bird shops in the Bird Garden were closely monitored for their health condition," a spokesman for the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said today (July 25).

     The spokesman said that the AFCD was satisfied with the birds' health conditions and the sanitation of the Bird Garden, including the public area and the pet bird shops, where thorough cleansing had been carried out.

     Before the reopening, all shops and relevant departments, including the Food and Environmental Hygiene Department and the Leisure and Cultural Services Department, have thoroughly cleansed and disinfected the premises again today.

     The AFCD will continue to monitor the Bird Garden closely and ensure that the licensing conditions are strictly followed. Pet birds in any licensed premises must be either legally imported from known sources with valid health certificates, or acquired from other licensed traders with supportive documentation, such as invoices and sale receipts detailing the species, quantity, date of transaction and sources. Licensed traders must produce these documents to AFCD officers for inspection when requested.

     The spokesman reminded people to continue to be alert and take proper precautions against avian influenza.

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

     "We will remain vigilant and continue surveillance of wild birds," the spokesman said.

     To relieve their financial hardship during the temporary closure, the government has provided the 69 shop owners (including 18 licensed pet bird stalls and other stalls selling various related goods) in the Bird Garden with a one-off ex-gratia payment of $12,000 each as well as a one-month rental waiver.

Ends/Wednesday, July 25, 2012
Issued at HKT 17:11


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