Taipei, Oct. 10 (CNA) Since the beginning of September, 88 individuals arriving in Taiwan have been fined NT$200,000 (US$6,430) for attempting to enter the country with food items containing pork, the Central Emergency Operations Center (CEOC) for African swine fever (ASF) said Wednesday.
The center noted a spike in individuals fined in early September, due to people bringing in mooncakes containing pork in anticipation of the Mid Autumn Festival, said Council of Agriculture (COA) minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲).
According to data released by the CEOC, a total of 33 people were fined NT$200,000 between Sept. 2 and Sept. 8, but the number has since steadily decreased.
In September, a total of 21 confiscated pork products tested positive for ASF, with 17 from China and 4 from Vietnam.
As of Oct. 8, 10 countries in Asia have reported ASF outbreaks: Mongolia, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, the Philippines, North Korea, South Korea and East Timor, the center said.
Taiwan and Japan are the only two East Asian countries that have not seen an outbreak thus far, said COA Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城). Other countries in Asia, such as Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia and Thailand also remain in the clear, he said.
Fourteen cases of ASF have been reported in South Korea since the first case was reported on Sept. 17, Huang added, with more than 10,000 pigs culled to prevent the outbreak from spreading. Whether they can contain the outbreak to Gyeonggi-do Province, which borders North Korea, is yet to be seen, he said.
To enhance preparedness, the center is planning a drill to simulate how it would respond to an outbreak, Huang said.
The drill will be held in late November or early December and focus on a 3-kilometer radius area around a hypothetical outbreak point. Whether all pigs within a 3km radius of the outbreak will be culled is still under discussion, said Huang.
Under current regulations, visitors from ASF-affected and high risk countries/areas who attempt to bring pork products into Taiwan are subject to a fine of NT$200,000 for first-time offenders, while repeat offenders face a fine of NT$1 million.
Individuals arriving from 18 countries and regions are also subject to hand luggage checks. These include China, Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, Myanmar, Thailand, North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Brunei, Mongolia and East Timor.
ASF is a deadly disease that threatens the pig population as there is no cure or vaccine against it, although the disease is not harmful to humans.