Taiwan yesterday began checking all passengers arriving from Vietnam for possession of pork products after a pork sandwich brought by a traveler from Ho Chi Minh City tested positive for African swine fever.
It was the latest step taken by the government to keep the virus out of the country after an outbreak in China.
The government has already imposed 100 percent checks of carry-on bags of people arriving from China and raised fines for undeclared pork products to NT$200,000 (US$6,483) for first-time offenders and NT$1 million for repeat offenders.
Photo: Chu Pei-hsiung, Taipei Times
Authorities fear the spread of African swine fever, which is deadly to pigs, could destroy the nation’s hog-raising industry, which contributes more than NT$100 billion a year to the domestic economy.
The pork that tested positive for African swine fever was discovered in a random check at Tainan Airport of a Taiwanese passenger who arrived from Ho Chi Minh City on Tuesday last week, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.
The passenger was fined NT$30,000, not NT$200,000, because Vietnam is classified under nations affected by foot-and-mouth disease, but not African swine fever.
However, laboratory tests yesterday confirmed that the sandwich contained the African swine fever virus, the council said.
It was the first time a pork product brought into Taiwan from a country other than China had tested positive for the virus.
“Beginning from 6pm Friday, Taiwan has implemented a 100 percent check of hand luggage carried by people arriving from Vietnam, and the measure will be in place until we can confirm that there is no African swine fever outbreak in Vietnam,” COA Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) told a news conference.
Authorities suspect the pork sample might have originated from China, because it contained genetic sequences identical to those of the swine fever virus strain found in China.
In related news, two more pork products brought into Taiwan from China yesterday tested positive for the virus, bringing the total number of confirmed African swine fever cases from China to 22, the Emergency Operation Center for African swine fever said.
Since the number of meat products illegally brought into Taiwan from Vietnam ranks second only to those from China, customs officials have been collecting samples of Vietnamese pork products obtained in random checks of passengers since November last year.
As of Wednesday, 54 such products had been tested, but none were found to have the African swine fever virus, the council said.
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