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Inspections to combat ASF stepped up at airports across Taiwan

2018/12/14 16:02:10

CNA file photo

Taipei, Dec. 14 (CNA) Quarantine inspections at Taiwan's airports have been stepped up to prevent African swine fever (ASF) entering the country, as newly increased fines for those found smuggling meat products come into force, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) said Friday.

In line with amended Article 45-1 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease, fines on individuals caught smuggling meat products from ASF-affected countries and areas has been increased effective from Friday, with NT$50,000 (US$1,620) for first-time offenders, NT$500,000 for second-time offenders and NT$1 million for repeat offenders.

Sniffer dogs are also being employed at airports, targeting mainly flights from China, where ASF has reached 21 provinces, cities and areas since the first reported outbreak in early August.

From Sept. 1 to Dec. 9, 319 cases of meat product smuggling were detected, with each offender being fined NT$15,000, BAPHIQ said, urging the public to be aware of the new enhanced fines from Friday.

Given the potential devastating impact the disease could have on Taiwan's hog-farming industry, the Presidential Office will hold a meeting next week to discuss measures to prevent the epidemic reaching the country, Taiwan Sugar Corp. (TSC) President Kwan Tao-i (管道一) said.

Once the ASF virus enters Taiwan, a minimum of 35 years will be needed to eradicate it, he added.

As the nation's top pig breeder, TSC remains extremely concerned about the threat ASF poses to the local hog-raising industry, which has an annual production value of NT$200 billion.

(By Chiu Chun-chin and Flor Wang)