Updated: 07/17/2013 19:57

AVA conducts bird flu emergency preparedness exercise

AVA conducts bird flu emergency preparedness exercise

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) conducted an emergency preparedness exercise today to test Singapore's operational readiness to respond to an outbreak of bird flu. 

A mock culling exercise involving 500 chickens was held this morning for the first time at a local poultry slaughterhouse.

The exercise today tested AVA's crisis management framework and operational readiness of its staff, as well as the readiness of poultry slaughterhouse workers.

It involved some 100 people from AVA and workers from Soonly Food Processing Industries. 

It also involved observers from the National Environment Agency and Ministry of Health. 

Soonly is one of 14 slaughterhouses in Singapore. 

The slaughterhouses process about 165,000 poultry - including chickens and ducks - every day. 

During the exercise, the 500 chickens were culled using electricity. 

AVA said this method is humane, and is internationally approved. 

The carcasses of the chickens were then packed into biohazard bags. 

They were then sent for incineration. 

To ensure the "bird flu virus" is contained within the slaughterhouse, staff members decontaminated the lorry and crates that had contact with the chickens. 

They sprayed the lorry and crates with water as well as foam, which acts as a decontaminant. 

Speaking to the media after the exercise, Dr Yap Him Hoo, AVA's Animal Health programme chief, noted the importance of being vigilant and prepared in case of an emergency. 

"So far, we noticed that the progress has been good. We notice that staff are well-trained to tackle a bird flu incursion."

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