The World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) plans to establish an East Asian task force to combat the spread of African swine fever (ASF), which would include Taiwan, the Council of Agriculture said yesterday.
The council has been on alert since the first ASF case was reported in China’s Liaoning Province in early August, the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said.
As of yesterday, 89 cases of ASF have been reported in 21 Chinese provinces and regions, it said.
Given the grave threat posed by the disease, the OIE Regional Representation for Asia and the Pacific wants to bring together officials from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, Japan, Mongolia and the two Koreas, with the first meeting to be held next month, the bureau said.
From September until Sunday, 319 travelers have been fined NT$15,000 (US$486) each for trying to bring meat products into Taiwan from areas affected by ASF or foot-and-mouth disease, in accordance with Article 45-1 of the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例), the bureau said.
There were 26 cases last week, down from 56 between Nov. 12 and Nov. 18, it said.
Of the 534 meat products it has confiscated for testing, only three packages of Chinese sausages — intercepted at airports in Taichung and Kaohsiung and a harbor in Kinmen County — were found to have the ASF virus, the bureau said.
While the legislature on Nov. 30 passed an amendment to the statue to increase the maximum fine for bringing in illegal meat products from NT$15,000 to NT$1 million, the legislation has not yet been promulgated by the Presidential Office, so the old fines still apply, Council of Agriculture Deputy Minister Huang Chin-cheng (黃金城) said.
Regarding a call yesterday by Democratic Progressive Party lawmakers for the government to established a higher-level task force to prevent ASF from spreading to this nation, Huang said the Executive Yuan would activate the Central Emergency Operation Center in case of an outbreak of ASF.
The council has scheduled a drill for Friday next week that would simulate an outbreak of ASF in Pingtung County’s Kanding Township (崁頂) and Yanpu Fishing Port (鹽埔漁港), as well as at Kaohsiung International Airport, with personnel from the Coast Guard Administration and the Customs Administration taking part, he said.
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