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November 15, 2008

Thai chicken imports to Malaysia suspended over bird flu scare
Malaysia has suspended imports of whole chicken and chicken parts from Thailand with immediate effect following a bird flu scare in the neighbouring country, AFP quoted state media as reporting.

Agriculture Minister Mustapa Mohamed said the government stopped issuing permits for the import of Thai chicken as a precautionary measure after bird flu broke out in Thailand earlier this week, state Bernama news agency reported late Friday.

"Malaysia has imported 769 tonnes of chicken from the country for the period between September and November this year," Mustapa said, but added that the freeze on imports will not affect chicken supply in the country.

He said checks at entry points along the Thai-Malaysia border in the north of the peninsula would be stepped up to prevent smuggling of the chicken into the country.

On Thursday, Thailand confirmed a second case of bird flu in less than a week. The H5N1 virus was found in poultry in the northern province of Uthai Thani, 220 kilometres (135 miles) from the capital Bangkok.

Thailand, the world's fourth-largest exporter of poultry, has slaughtered millions of birds to halt the spread of the bird flu virus.

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