Taipei-- Fighting avian influenza is like fighting a war and everybody needs to work together to combat it, Premier Lin Chuan (??) said Monday after chickens at a market in Chiayi County were found to be infected with the highly pathogenic H5N6 virus.
Speaking at the first meeting of the Central Disaster Emergency Operation Center, the premier called on local governments to work with the central government to make preparations and adopt necessary measures to contain the disease.
Local governments should stay on top of the situation and notify central authorities of any outbreaks as they happen, the premier said, calling this "paramount."
He also asked local governments to step up their crackdowns on illegal slaughtering, whether it occurs in traditional markets or elsewhere.
The premier said that if the outbreak continues, the Cabinet will take further measures, such as imposing border or movement controls.
On the possibility of bird-to-human transmission of the H5N6 virus, Lin said such cases had been seen in China but not in South Korea or Japan, which have also experienced H5N6 virus outbreaks.
But Lin said the government will stay alert to the possibility and the Ministry of Health and Welfare and the Council of Agriculture will step up awareness campaigns to keep the public from panicking.
The Cabinet has also asked poultry farmers not to smuggle in chickens from other countries and urged the public to thoroughly cook chicken, duck and eggs.
Chiayi County officials said Monday they found illegally slaughtered chickens at a traditional market stall in Minxiong Township on Feb. 10, and the chickens were found on Monday to be infected with the H5N6 virus.
They were traced to a chicken farm in Puzi, where the number of chickens has fallen in half to around 1,000 birds. Officials have imposed movement controls on the farm and sent the chickens for tests. The results will be published Tuesday.
The traditional market and chicken farm have been disinfected since the discovery of the flu virus.
At the same time, Chiayi County health officials have put 10 people -- including two men who illegally slaughtered chickens and inspection officials -- on a quarantine list, and have asked them to pay especially close attention to their health for 10 days.
A turkey farm in the southern Taiwan city of Tainan was confirmed to have been infected with H5N6 Sunday.
The Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine under the Council of Agriculture said on Monday, meanwhile, that it is making a correction, saying that the first H5N6 case it reported on Feb. 6 in Hualien County was not a young goose but a young duck.
On Saturday, a truckload of ducks transported from Hualien to neighboring Yilan County for slaughter was confirmed as having been infected with the deadly virus.
The outbreak of the H5N6 virus has put authorities on high alert because it is both highly contagious and pathogenic, as seen in other countries.
Since October 2016, this new A-type influenza has attacked 340 poultry farms in South Korea, leading to nearly 33 million birds being culled, according to the bureau.
In Japan, 201 wild birds have been confirmed as infected with H5N6 over the past three months, and the virus further hit 10 poultry farms, resulting in nearly 1.4 million birds being culled.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel