Customs officials on Friday last week started checking the carry-on luggage of travelers arriving from Russia to prevent the import of pork products infected by swine diseases, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
Russia has been added to a list of nations subjected to carry-on luggage checks, as African swine fever and foot-and-mouth disease are affecting the nation, the agency said.
Russian carrier Royal Flight on May 25 resumed weekly flights between Taoyuan and Moscow following a three-year hiatus, while Siberia Airlines on May 24 launched weekly flights between Taoyuan and Vladivostok.
Asked about the lapse between the flight launches and the luggage checks, Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said the council had to consult with experts and go through certain administrative procedures before implementing the policy.
Foot-and-mouth disease, which affected Taiwan since 1997, has been eliminated in the nation and no animals have been vaccinated over the past year, the council said on July 1.
Taiwan has not reported any African swine fever infections after China reported the first outbreak in August last year and all of its provinces had been affected by late April.
In addition to Russia, the carry-on luggage of travelers arriving from China (including Hong Kong and Macau), Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, North Korea, Myanmar, Thailand and South Korea are also subject to customs checks, although the final three nations have not reported any African swine fever cases.
The outbreak in China is not likely to have eased, as the number of Chinese pork products intercepted at customs that test positive for the disease is rising, Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.
Of the 1,958 seized pork products sampled for testing, 88 have tested positive for African swine fever, six from Vietnam and 82 from China, council data showed on Tuesday.
Among the tainted products from China, 18 were confirmed this month, surpassing the previous high of 13 tainted products detected in May, the data showed.
Faced with a worsening shortage of pork products, China might be using infected hogs stored in refrigerators to make processed products, Huang said.
Some experts have said that China could face another peak in outbreaks, due to its loose control of hog transportation, he said.
Meanwhile, Japanese officials have expressed their admiration of the strict quarantine measures at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, including stiff fines for illegal pork imports, sniffer dogs and the use of GPS to track pork transportation, he said, citing an exchange with quarantine officials at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport two weeks ago.
Chen urged China to cooperate with other nations to curb the spread of African swine fever.
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