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Taiwan to improve border inspections against ASF: COA

2019/05/14 19:13:47

Taipei, May 14 (CNA) The Council of Agriculture (COA) is to increase border inspections against African swine fever (ASF), COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said Tuesday during an inspection at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport.

The ASF-positive rate among pork products from overseas was nearly 8 percent in April and is expected to rise to 15 percent this month, according to Chen.

Between Aug. 27, 2018 and May 11, 2019, a total of 1,463 pork products were tested for ASF, including 1,297 from China, 114 from Vietnam and 52 from other countries and regions, with 57 (55 from China and two from Vietnam) testing positive for ASF, according to statistics compiled by the central epidemic command center for ASF under the Executive Yuan.

The ASF-positive rate was particularly high among products from China, accounting for 0.6 percent, 1.1 percent and 2.2 percent of the total in October, November and December 2018, respectively, and 6.2 percent, 8.0 percent, 3.9 percent and 7.6 percent in the first four months of this year. In May, nine products have so far tested positive for ASF and the rate is expected to rise to 15 percent.

The figures show that the risk of ASF being introduced into Taiwan from China remains high and cannot be ignored, according to the center.

The deadly and highly contagious virus has made inroads into China's food industry, leading to the high ASF-positive detection rate, Chen noted.

Hong Kong confirmed May 10 its first ASF case in a slaughterhouse and ordered the culling of 6,000 pigs in the facility, Chen said, adding that the Taiwan public has no need to panic because the government has since Jan. 16 carried out 100 percent checks of luggage belonging to all travelers from China, Hong Kong and Macau.

To date, China, Hong Kong, Macau, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Thailand have been listed as ASF high-risk areas.

Meanwhile, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Ho Chih-wei (何志偉) said Tuesday that to prevent ASF from entering Taiwan, he will propose a law amendment to raise the fines imposed on first-time offenders for bringing in pork products from countries where there are ASF outbreaks from NT$200,000 to NT$1 million, with repeat offenders facing fines of between NT$1 million and NT$3 million.

Taiwan is on high alert out of concern that the spread of the virus in China could hit its own valuable pig farming industry.

ASF is a deadly disease that threatens the pig population because it cannot be cured and there is no vaccine. However, it is not harmful to humans.

(By Wu Jui-chi, Chen Chun-hua and Evelyn Kao)
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