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First ASF-confirmed pork product found in mail

2019/01/24 23:28:57

Photo courtesy of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine

Taipei, Jan. 24 (CNA) Another four cases of pork products originating in China have tested positive for African swine fever (ASF), including the first courier package found to contain meat products that tested positive for the virus, a Council of Agriculture (COA) official said Thursday.

During a press conference organized by the government's ASF disaster response center, COA deputy chief Huang Chin-Cheng (黃金城) said the four new cases brought the total to 18.

According to the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ), the 15th case was found on Jan. 14 in a courier package containing ham sausages produced in China's Shandong province.

It was the first time pork products in a courier package tested positive for ASF, the BAPHIQ said, adding that this shows the virus could enter Taiwan through multiple channels, including the postal system.

The 16th case, which was dried pork jerky produced in China's Jiangsu province, was sent anonymously to inspection officials in Hsinchu.

Meanwhile, the 17th and 18th cases were found on Jan. 11 in two different type of sausages brought by passengers from the Chinese city of Tianjin, for which separate fines of NT$200,000 (US$6,473.90) were issued.

To prevent African swine fever from reaching Taiwan, the government on Dec. 18, 2018 increased the fines for bringing in pork products from countries with ASF outbreaks, with first offenders liable to a fine of NT$200,000 and repeat offenders NT$1 million.

As of Jan. 23, 71 people had been fined NT$200,000 for violating the ban, according to data from the BAPHIQ.

Huang stressed that all the pork products that tested positive for ASF originated in China and he cautioned members of the public that bringing in such products could harm Taiwan's pig farming industry.

Since the first confirmed case of ASF was reported in China's Liaoning Province last August, Taiwan has been on high alert, concerned that the spread of the virus from China could devastate the country's NT$80 billion-a-year (US$2.59 billion) pig farming industry.

Although it does not affect humans, the virus is deadly to pigs with no known vaccine or cure.

(By Yang Shu-min and William Yen)