by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) April 9, 2013
Badminton-crazy Indonesia is concerned a deadly bird flu outbreak could claim an unlikely victim -- the shuttlecock -- officials said Tuesday after the government banned imports of Chinese duck feathers.
Jakarta is to halt the import of all Chinese poultry products, including dried duck feathers used to make shuttlecocks, after the new H7N9 bird flu strain killed seven people and made 24 ill in eastern China.
The Indonesian Badminton Association (PBSI) said the decision could lead to a dearth of shuttlecocks as 40 percent of those used in the country are imported from abroad, mainly from China.
"I hope the ban won't last long as I'm afraid that it will have an impact" on the supply of shuttlecocks, PBSI spokesman Ricky Subagja told AFP, adding professional players in the country mainly used shuttlecocks from China.
Indonesia is a former badminton powerhouse but has seen its fortunes on the international stage wane, with Chinese shuttlers now dominating the sport.
Deputy Agriculture Minister Rusman Heriawan confirmed Tuesday that Indonesia had decided to halt the import of all poultry products from China.
A second agriculture ministry official said Indonesia imported dried duck feathers and several other Chinese poultry products. He added the ban was not in place yet but would come into force soon.
No cases of H7N9 have been reported in Indonesia but officials said they were stepping up monitoring of poultry deaths and influenza-related illnesses in humans.
The country has been the hardest hit by the H5N1 strain of bird flu, with 160 fatalities reported between 2005 and 2012 out of more than 365 deaths worldwide, according to World Health Organization figures.
The WHO said on Monday there was no evidence that H7N9, which China revealed just over a week ago had been found in humans for the first time, was spreading between people.
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