Chickens back on HK menu

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Chickens were back on sale again in Hong Kong yesterday, for the first time in six weeks. The hunger for the birds was so great that they were snapped up at exorbitant prices despite lingering fears over a bird flu that has killed six people.

Vendors complained that only 35,000 birds were imported on Saturday when the government lifted a ban on live chickens from China. Before the ban was imposed on 24 December, Hong Kong used to import 80,000 birds daily from China.

No new flu cases have been reported in Hong Kong since the government slaughtered all the territory's 1.4 million chickens in late December. Of the 18 people stricken with the virus since last year, only two remain in hospital.

The birds were fetching up to Hong Kong $90 (pounds 7.29) each, more than 10 per cent more than before the ban. Retailers said wholesalers were charging them about 30 per cent more.

- AP, Hong Kong