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New CGA head pledges to keep African swine fever at bay

2019/02/19 14:44:25

Taipei, Feb. 19 (CNA) Chen Kuo-en (陳國恩), the new head of Taiwan's Coast Guard Administration (CGA), pledged Tuesday to make every effort to prevent African swine flu (ASF) from entering and affecting Taiwan.

Chen, who has years of public service experience in law enforcement and intelligence agencies, said after his conferral ceremony that while he was happy to take up the challenge, his new position came with great responsibility.

He said keeping ASF out is the most pressing issue at the moment, and committed the CGA to applying the most rigorous attitude and highest standards to limiting the potential for the disease to make its way into the country.

It is better to do more than less and to make meticulous and long-term preparations to combat ASF, Chen said, seeing those steps as essential to ensure national health and economic stability.

Since the first confirmed case of ASF was reported in China's Liaoning Province last August, Taiwan has been on high alert, worried 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.

According to Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF, a total of 25 cases involving pork products have been confirmed as infected with ASF since August 2018, including one in October 2018, two in November 2018, four in December 2018, 11 in January 2019 and seven in February 2019.

First detected in Kenya in 1921, ASF is deadly to pigs and there is no known vaccine or cure, alarming veterinarians and livestock producers worldwide.

As for homeland defense, Chen said the CGA will follow President Tsai Ing-wen's (蔡英文) plan to develop Taiwan's own indigenous submarines and acquire smart technology equipment, including thermal imaging devices and VTOL (Vertical Take Off and Landing) unmanned aerial vehicles.

Chen has previously served as head of the New Taipei City Police Department, director-general of the National Police Agency, and deputy head of the National Security Bureau.

(By Huang Li-yun and Chung Yu-chen)