Hong Kong bans imports from area of Scotland amid bird flu concerns

The country said eggs and poultry from Angus would not be permitted due to concerns over the spread of the deadly disease.

Hong Kong bans Scottish egg and poultry exports from Angus amid concerns over bird flu outbreak iStock

Hong Kong has suspended imports from an area of Scotland amid concerns over the spread of bird flu.

Poultry, including eggs, from Angus is now barred from entering the Asian country until further notice following the “devastating” outbreak of the H5N1 strain.

Thousands of birds have died or been slaughtered in an effort to curb the spread of the virus, described as one of the worst in recent memory.

Hong Kong’s Centre for Food Safety (CFS) said it had imposed the restriction to protect public health.

It comes just a few months after similar imports from the Isle of Lewis were subjected to the same prohibition in October.

Sheila Voas, the Scottish Government’s chief veterinary officer, said around 224,000 domestic birds were culled in Scotland last year, up to November, in evidence given to the rural affairs, islands and natural environment committee.

A CFS spokesman said Hong Kong imported about 940 tonnes of chilled and frozen poultry meat and about 230,000 poultry eggs from the UK in the first nine months of last year.

He added: “The CFS has contacted the British authority over the issue and will closely monitor information issued by the WOAH and the relevant authorities on the avian influenza outbreak.

“Appropriate action will be taken in response to the development of the situation.”

The UK Government ordered all poultry and captive birds in England to be kept indoors last year, but Voas warned Scotland could be “behind the curve”.

The H5N1 strain is deadly and can spread through entire flocks of domestic birds within days through droppings, saliva or contaminated feed and water.

A farmer in Angus was left “devastated” after the disease was found at her property last week, forcing the destruction of an entire flock of hens and ducks.

Louise Nicoll, who runs Newton Farm Holidays and Tours, said it had been “difficult” losing so many birds – which had been used for educational experiences – at once.

The National Union of Farmers (NFU) say many commercial poultry farmers are considering what their future holds.

The NFU’s pigs and poultry and animal health and welfare spokesperson Penny Middleton said: “A lot of keepers are now thinking “is it worth me putting more birds back in the shed” they’ve cleaned our or “would I bet better taking a break just now?

“Because the high risk they’ve got of losing everything and the huge costs of disease isn’t out weighed by that tiny margin they might get at the end of the day if they do continue.”

Avian flu poses little risk to human health, but the public are being urged not to touch any wild birds and report any that have died or look unwell.

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