By Yang Yuan-ting and Kayleigh Madjar / Personal Reporter, with a personal editor
Those who bring pork products into the country from Thailand face a fine of at least 200,000 Taiwan dollars (US$7,229), after the country declared its first case of African swine fever on Tuesday. .
Effective immediately, offenders will be fined NT$200,000 for the first offense and NT$1 million for a repeat offence, the Central Emergency Operations Center said on Tuesday.
Foreign nationals who cannot pay the fine would be refused entry and deported, the agency added.
The tightened restrictions were announced after Thailand’s Department of Livestock Development confirmed the country’s first case of the virus in a surface sample from an abattoir in Nakhon Pathom province on Tuesday.
One sample tested positive among 309 blood and surface samples taken from pig farming areas, the department said.
Bangkok said it would report the findings to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) and declare the 5km radius around the slaughterhouse an epidemic zone.
He plans to slaughter pigs raised in the area, he added.
According to OIE regulations, a country must be declared affected once the virus has been detected within its borders, said the deputy director general of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine , Hsu Jung-pin (徐榮彬).
The increased penalties also come after the bureau detected the virus on sausages sent from Thailand on December 15 and 27 last year, as well as Monday last week.
Inspections of parcels and luggage from Southeast Asia would be stepped up, the office said, adding that it was paying close attention to the issue.
As travel and mail volumes increase ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, packages, luggage and shipments from affected and high-risk areas will be inspected one by one, the center said.
During an inspection yesterday at the mail processing center in Tainan, where the three cases were detected, Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) said the packages would be opened and inspected on the spot. they were signaled by a sniffer dog.
The number of incoming parcels of banned pork products has increased by more than 50% between 2020 and last year, especially from affected areas such as China, Hong Kong, Macao, Vietnam and Thailand, a Chen said, urging locals not to order pork from these countries. areas.
Prime Minister Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) also called on the council and the ministries of finance, transport and communications to come up with enhanced measures to prevent the virus from entering the country, Chen added.
As it is difficult to identify the sender of a package, the penalties would focus on the recipients, a council representative said.
Residents who receive a package containing pork from an unknown source should contact the office, which will pick it up and destroy it.
Those who fail to comply would face fines of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000 under the Animal Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act (動物傳染病防治條例).
The center has also pledged to improve communication with foreign residents and work with businesses to ensure that no meat products of unclear origin are sold.
Farm inspections would be strengthened, as well as disinfection of food waste and other measures improved, he added.
Although African swine fever poses no risk to humans, the virus can be fatal to pigs and seriously affect pork producers.
The virus has been detected in most of Asia, although Taiwan and Japan have not been affected.
The Asian countries affected by African swine fever are: Bhutan; Cambodia; China, including Hong Kong and Macau; Indonesia; India; Laos; Malaysia; Mongolia; Burma; North Korea; The Philippines; South Korea; Thailand; East Timor; and Vietnam.
Additional reports from Reuters and CNA
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