Kelantan H5N1 outbreak: China slaps ban on import of M'sian bird's nest

FAIRUZ MOHD SHAHAR

PUTRAJAYA: China has imposed a temporary restriction on imports of raw clean swiftlet edible bird's nest from Malaysia, due to the H5N1 avian flu outbreak in Kelantan.

The move led the Veterinary Services Department here to send letters to the Chinese authorities explaining the situation of the disease in the country.

The department said the letters contained, among others, details on the implementation of three zoning processes to curb the spread of the disease.

It said the first zone is Infection Zone, which covers six areas in Kelantan where H5N1 has been detected: Kota Baru, Bachok, Tumpat, Pasir Mas, Pasir Puteh and Tanah Merah.

"Under the Infection Zone, the task force was mobilised immediately to catch and dispose of all poultry within a 1km radius from every infected location.

"The second zone is Control Zone, (which covers four areas in Kelantan where the virus has) yet to be detected, namely Mahang, Jeli, Kuala Krai and Gua Musang. Besut in Terengganu is also placed under this zone.

"We conduct active surveillance, including clinical observation of all poultry; and collect clocal swabs and carcass samples. These samples are sent to the Veterinary Research Institution in Ipoh to test the presence of avian influenza virus. We also monitor the movement of poultry, including enforcing roadblocks," the Department said in a statement today.

The third zone – the Free Zone – comprises other states free of the disease. The department said active surveillance and movement control of poultry are being conducted in Free Zones as a precautionary measure.

"We also explained that the chicken and duck (populations) in Kelantan only comprise 0.5 per cent of the total population nationwide. The production of commercial eggs is fully run outside Kelantan.

"(Finally), the sources of raw clean edible bird’s nest, which are meant for export, are from outside Kelantan.

"The supply sources can be traced through a system adopted by the department," it said.

The Department added that processing plants utilise the 'Heat Treatment' procedure as required by China, wherein bird’s nest products are heated to 70 degrees Celsius for 3.5 seconds.

It said the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry secretary-general and the Department's deputy director-general will conduct a working visit to China to explain the bird flu situation and the measures being taken by local authorities.

"Through this working visit, we hope China will lift the temporary restriction and allow the importation of the bird’s nest in China," it said.

In 2016, Malaysia exported 20.15 metric tonnes of bird’s nest, worth RM134.13 million, to China.