The Council of Agriculture (COA) is to next month hold a nationwide drill on quarantine measures against African swine flu, as an outbreak in China has shown no signs of stopping and has reached China’s Fujian Province.
The planned drill would be the first large-scale action against an animal disease since one in 2005 to curb the spread of avian influenza, the council said on Thursday.
Since China on Aug. 3 reported its first case of the disease, it has spread to 17 provinces and regions, with a total of 64 cases as of yesterday, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.
To prevent the African swine fever virus from contaminating the nation’s hogs, the council said that it this week started visiting more than 2,000 hog farmers who use kitchen refuse as feed to verify that they are disinfecting the refuse by heating it at 90°C for an hour.
The council said it plans to launch a nationwide inspection next month and would fine farmers who fail to properly disinfect refuse, adding that it would also work with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to inspect firms selling processed meat products such as ham and sausages.
Travelers bringing meat products into the nation from areas affected by African swine fever or foot-and-mouth disease have since September been given the maximum fine of NT$15,000 (US$487), in line with Article 45-1 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例), bureau Director-General Feng Hai-tung (馮海東) said.
As of Sunday, the bureau had issued 148 such fines, 93 of which were given to importers of Chinese meat products, he said, but added that the fines have not effectively curbed illegal imports.
A bureau proposal to increase the maximum fine to NT$300,000 by amending the statute was approved by the Executive Yuan on Monday.
The Cabinet would negotiate with party caucuses to speed up passage of the amendment, Premier William Lai (賴清德) said on Thursday, adding that he has ordered related authorities to increase quarantine measures against the disease.
People who purchase meat products online should also have them undergo quarantine measures, or they would face a maximum prison term of seven years or a maximum fine of NT$3 million under Article 41 of the statute, the bureau said.
Additional reporting by Lin Chia-nan
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