In the wake of bird flu spreading like wildfire in the East Asian countries, Japan has begun slaughtering around 210,000 farm birds in northern Hokkaido. Japan, along with South Korea, has been taking measures to stop the spread of a severe strain of bird flu known as H5N6.
Hokkaido government officials confirmed the news by saying that it is a preventive measure taken to combat the highly contaminating virus that has been detected across several farms in the country.
The culling in Hokkaido comes just a few weeks after the mass slaughtering of 550,000 chickens in the central city of Niigata and 23,000 ducks in the Aomori prefecture south of Hokkaido.
Agence France-Presse reported that authorities have banned the transport of poultry and any kind of poultry products in areas close to the affected farms. They are also carrying out sterilisation of main roads leading to them. However, local officials have said that progress has been slow as only 32,310 chickens at the farm in Hokkaido's Shimzu town have been killed by Saturday evening.
"We continue to cull the chickens today but the work is difficult as the air temperature falls to some -20 degree Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit) at night," told an official to AFP.
The situation has also been grave in South Korea as the country raised the alert for bird flu to the highest level on 15 December after agriculture ministry said that the disease has spread nationwide. The country has already carried out culling of at least 12 percent of its total poultry population and other quarantine measures have been stepped up to stop the wider spread of the virus.