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Japan and other countries block poultry

Several countries include Japan, Singapore and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have suspended the important of live poultry, poultry mean and egg products from Australia due to an outbreak of the H7H7 Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) virus.

The most recent announcement came on Friday, August 21, from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries (MAFF), which via a World Trade Organization (WTO) notice, has announced that it is suspending imports of the products “in order to prevent the introduction of [HPAI’ virus into Japan.” The Japanese authorities’ suspension extends to third countries, through which Australia products could likewise be shipped.

Japan’s notification elucidates that the restriction is specifically targeted at poultry “meat products derived from animals slaughtered on and after 3 August 2020 and poultry egg products derived from eggs laid on and after 3 August 2020”.

According to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), the leading intergovernmental organization on matters pertaining to the improvement of animal health, the outbreak of HPAI was confirmed in Victoria, Australia on July 31, thereby, prompting the aforenamed jurisdictions to enact import restrictions from that date.

Singapore, for instance, via a trade circular published on Singapore Food Agency’s official website, announced that its restrictions are effective as of July 31. The circular, however, states: “Heat-treated poultry products which comply with the OIE guidelines for inactivation of Avian Influenza virus will not be subjected to the restriction.” Among other additional attestations, to export poultry products to Singapore, the veterinary health certificate must indicate that the products “were not derived from birds originating from Victoria, Australia.”

Similarly, the UAE has set a ban on the import of “domestic and wild birds and their untreated by-products, day-old chicks and hatching eggs from Victoria [Australia].” The UAE’s WTO notification specifically adds that table eggs and poultry slaughtered as far back as July 2, 2020, are prohibited for export to the UAE.

The HPAI was first identified in the Netherlands seventeen years ago, when studies conducted had found that there can be animal-to-human transmission, with the highest frequency of such infection being found among poultry farm workers who developed flu-like symptoms.

In terms of its effect on poultry, the disease can lead to the infected animals’ death, although the majority of incidences demonstrate mild symptoms. This appears to be the present case as the World Health Organization (WHO) and the OIE reports that out of 355,000 birds susceptible to the virus, there were 211,512 cases, with 190 deaths.

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