Malaysia has banned imports of livestock and seafood from Thailand in an effort to stop the bird flu virus from reaching its shores.

Deputy Agriculture Minister Mohd Shariff Omar said Malaysia is to carry out checks to make sure the ban is being adhered to, Reuters reported, citing local media.

Meanwhile, in a bid to encourage domestic chicken consumption, Thailand’s prime minister, Thaksin Shinawatra, said he would pay Bt3m (US$76,000) to the relatives of anyone who dies of bird flu having caught it from eating cooked chicken or eggs, reported Agence France Presse.

“To (the relatives of) anyone in the general public, who does not work directly with chickens, who dies from eating cooked chicken or eggs I will pay three million baht out of my own pocket,” Thaksin was quoted by AFP as saying.

“I can reassure all of you that based on scientific fact it is not harmful to eat well-cooked chicken and eggs, as the virus will die in high temperature,” he said. 

The prime minister also said he would donate Bt100,000 to pay the hospital expenses of anyone who catches bird flu from eating cooked chicken or eggs.

The country’s poultry industry has been hard hit by the bird flu outbreak, which has led to bans on Thai poultry exports to major markets such as the EU and Japan. Thaksin said 14 million chickens had been culled so far in order to prevent the spread of the disease.