Malaysia to clarify bird flu outbreak to Indonesia following poultry ban

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on August 16, 2018.
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KUALA LUMPUR: The director-general of the Department of Veterinary Services Malaysia (DVS) Datuk Dr Quaza Nizamuddin Hassan Nizam will travel to Indonesia to explain to his counterpart there about the recent bird flu outbreak in Tuaran, Sabah, after Indonesia, banned the import of poultry from Malaysia.

Speaking to reporters in Parliament yesterday, Deputy Minister of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Sim Tze Tzin said after the first bird flu case in Tuaran on July 27, DVS had taken all necessary steps to contain the outbreak, and as at Aug 11, no new case has been recorded.

“The whole issue is being professionally handled. There is no reason to panic, especially the stock market. It is unfair to most of the poultry operators in Peninsular Malaysia, because it only happened in one place, [so] it is unfair to think this is a major outbreak and punish everyone. The bird flu has been contained, [and] we are monitoring [the situation] very closely,” he said.

“Now Indonesia has initiated the ban, we will go and explain to them, usually our director-general will be the one travelling there. [He will explain] it was only one place where we detected the bird flu, and that [poultry from] the rest of Malaysia is safe to be consumed,” he added.

In total, Sim said DVS has culled 31,140 birds because of the Tuaran outbreak, with 3,985 eggs destroyed, after 358 samples were taken. There are now 104 premises and over 30 villages being actively monitored.

“We have taken necessary and transparent steps to cull the birds, and necessary reporting to international bodies. Any farm, when they find any unusual death of birds, will report to DVS, and DVS officers will take samples from the reported area.

“If there is a possibility of bird flu, they will cull all the birds within a 1km radius. And from the 1km to 5km radius, they will quarantine for surveillance, to prevent any movement of the birds,” he said.

“As of now there is no worry of [further] outbreak. We had one similar experience in Kelantan last year, so our officers are experienced in this. Within four months, all things were cleared in Kelantan. All these show the government is very serious in containing the outbreak.”

Indonesia’s agriculture ministry said yesterday it has banned imports of fresh poultry and unprocessed products shipped after Aug 9 from Malaysia.

A check on the shares of poultry players on the local bourse show that they have not been impacted significantly, as they either have local farms in Indonesia or do not export to the country in general.

Poultry-based counters such as CCK Consolidated Corporation Bhd, Lay Hong Bhd and Cab Cakaran Corporation Bhd, however, did close in the red yesterday. CCK closed down 0.5 sen to 90.5 sen, Lay Hong closed down 1.5 sen to 71 sen, while Cab Cakaran closed down one sen to 93 sen.