Purge the Birds

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Hong Kong health officials planned to kill all of the territory’s estimated 1.2 million chickens Monday in a massive 24-hour slaughter operation aimed at snuffing out bird flu at its source. Government workers in white surgical masks and gloves fanned out across the city, bagging corpses with a few cupfuls of lime. The bags will be sealed and buried in government-run landfills.

Officials are struggling to prevent panic in a city that has had to abruptly forsake its favorite meal. A fact sheet on the disease is now distributed to tourists and special government clinics have been established for testing and treatment. One thing, though, about the operation that will employ 2,200 government workers and cost $40 million in reimbursement to farmers and vendors: it had better work.