China admitted earlier this week that the bird flu situation here is “grave,” especially for the 2,600 dead birds found in Inner Mongolia. Now, quite suddenly it seems, Shanghai is starting to act like it is taking the threat seriously (and Shanghaiist is having SARS flashbacks, like when immediately after the government stopped lying to the people and Shanghai University gave all the foreign teachers a thermometer … and vitamins). It was announced yesterday that all travelers arriving in Shanghai by air, land or sea will have the soles of their shoes sterilized. We couldn’t find anywhere exactly how the shoes will be sterilized, or how they plan to pull this off — that’s a helluva lot of feet to clean. Luggage and packages will also be checked more thoroughly, sometimes by sniffing dogs with a nose for poultry. So, if you are in the habit of gnawing on those nastly looking vacuum-packed chicken legs they sell at all major transportation hubs in China, finish up and throw the bones out the window before crossing the border.
China has reported no human cases of bird flu. No avian outbreaks have been claimed in Shanghai, nor nearby provinces of Zhejiang, Jiangsu and Anhui. So one would hope the reason for the increased vigilence is an effort to keep it that way. The Shanghai Daily hints that the move likely has much to do with the fact that we are in the middle of the migration season for birds. “Shanghai is a major stop-over spot for migratory birds on the Asia-Pacific route during their annual migration. At least 1 million wild birds, of some 200 species, stop by Shanghai every year during the migration,” the paper quoted Xie Yimin of the Shanghai’s Wild Animal Protection Station as saying. Fourteen “migratory observation stations” were built in the city this year to help experts look for irregularities. The city is also ramping up its supervision of bird markets and restuarants and attempting to crack down on a thriving illegal trade in wild birds. Shanghai quarantine authorities continue to ban or destroy poultry imports from flu-stricken countries or regions.
And, with that, it is time for lunch. Anyone for KFC?
UPDATE: China to shut borders if bird flu is found (UPI)
A Shanghai blogger says his shoes weren’t checked at the Hongqiao airport
Where’s my avian flu shot? (Slate)
Also on Shanghaiist:
OK, now we’re worried about the bird flu
Photo from ShanghaiDaily.com.