HONG KONG, Jan. 28 (Xinhua) -- Hong Kong's Chief Executive CY Leung on Tuesday questioned local residents' diet habit of cooking live poultry bought from market, since the deadly H7N9 bird flu has forced the government to cull thousands of live chickens to prevent spread of the epidemic.
Hong Kong's food and health authority on Monday confirmed a H7N9 bird flu case was found at a local agricultural products wholesale market and announced it would cull about 20,000 poultry in the market Tuesday.
From about 10:00 in the morning, dozens of Hong Kong's health authorities' staff started culling of the 20,000 birds at the wholesale market in Cheung Sha Wan and did not finish until 10:00 in the evening.
The government has decided to suspend poultry import from the mainland and live poultry sales on local markets for at least three weeks. The government also bans local chicken farms from selling live poultry in the period of time.
The emergency measures seem to make both local chicken farms owners and residents disappointed, since it is very likely that local residents could not buy any live poultry during the upcoming traditional Chinese Lunar New Year holidays when Hong Kong people usually eat even more chickens.
"It is a social price we have to pay for our health when a bird flu case is confirmed in Hong Kong," Leung said. "I think it is time to rethink about whether the Hong Kong people should keep our habit of buying live chickens."
"Every Hong Kong residents should talk over this issue," he said when meeting the press.
Monday's discovery was the fifth time that Hong Kong picked up a positive sample of bird flu in the last 17 years since 1997. The government culled thousands or even millions of live chickens each time a sample had tested positive for bird flu.
For the long term, the whole society should review and learn a lesson from Hong Kong's previous experiences of bird flu epidemic in the past 17 years, the chief executive said.
Leung called upon the entire community including the various sectors involved to pay heed to government advice, to pay attention to personal hygiene, and also follow government's policy decisions.