Taipei, Sept. 9 (CNA) Taiwan on Monday included the Philippines among the countries deemed as affected by African swine fever (ASF), after the neighboring country earlier in the day confirmed an outbreak of the deadly pig disease there, according to Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF.
With the inclusion of the Philippines on the list of ASF-affected countries, a fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,407) will be imposed on arriving passengers from that country found to be carrying pork or pork products, if they are first-time offenders, the center said.
Repeat offenders will face a fine of NT$1 million, the center said in a press release, adding that those who fail to pay the fine will be denied entry into Taiwan.
The decision to include the Philippines on the list of ASF-affected countries was reached after it was confirmed earlier in the day that there had been an outbreak of ASF there, the center said.
In a press briefing earlier Monday, Philippines Agriculture Secretary William Dar confirmed the outbreak, saying that 14 of the 20 pig's blood samples his ministry had sent to the United Kingdom had tested positive for ASF, according to the center.
The Philippines, however, has not yet officially reported the outbreak to the World Organization for Animal Health, the global body in charge of ASF prevention, the center said.
Since last month, Taiwan had been taking precautionary measures against the entry of ASF from the Philippines, based on what the center said was "reliable information" it has obtained pertaining to outbreaks of ASF in Bulacan and Rizal provinces in the Philippines.
On Aug. 19, Taiwan expanded its hand luggage checks to include passengers arriving at its main airport from the Philippines. At the time, Customs officials at all of Taiwan's international airports, except for the main one at Taoyuan, had been checking the hand luggage of arriving passengers as a precautionary measure against the entry of the ASF virus.
The fine for bringing in pork products from the Philippines was NT$10,000, since it had not yet been listed among the ASF-affected countries, namely China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Mongolia, North Korea.
Since the first ASF outbreak in China was reported in August 2018, Taiwan has intensified border inspections of meat products for fear that entry of the ASF virus would cripple its high-value pig farming industry.
ASF is a deadly disease that threatens pig populations as it cannot be cured and there is no vaccine against it. However, it is not harmful to humans.