37 days to go before Kelantan declared free from H5N1: Shabery

Rizalman Hammim

JOHOR BARU: The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry is satisfied with the measures taken to contain the spread of the H5N1 avian flu in Kelantan.

Its Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Shabery Cheek said the ministry had to take strict measures, including conducting road blocks in affected areas to prevent movements of poultry, in order to control the spread of the outbreak.

"The people know that we had to take these strict measures because the outbreak not only affected the local poultry industry but also export of other Malaysian products.

"China, for example, issued a temporary ban on the import of bird's nest from Malaysia. These measures are necessary," said Shabery.

He said the ministry would have to wait 60 days before it can declare the outbreak as over.

"As of Friday, it has been 23 days since the last reported case of the flu. According to international standard, we need to be free of new cases for 60 days before we can declare the outbreak is over," said Shabery.

He also said that the issue of compensation is still being discussed because there are different categories involved.

Shabery was speaking to the media after launching the Pulai-level Jelajah Tani Negaraku programme at Kompleks Tan Sri Mohamed Rahmat today.

Also present were Deputy Home Minister Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed, who is Pulai MP, the ministry's secretary general Datuk Seri Dr Ismail Bakar and Malaysian Pineapple Industry Board chairman Datuk Samsolbari Jamali.

In another matter, Shabery said the number of agro-based products exported by Malaysia have increased to about 2,600.

"Malaysia does not export agricultural products like rice, fruits or vegetables but we have the ability to export processed agricultural products which is important in order to balance our trade." said Shabery.

He said the main agro-based items exported are mostly coffee-based products.