China may face wider pork bans as African swine fever spreads

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BEIJING--China reported four cases of African swine fever on September 6, bringing the number of outbreaks to 13 since the virus was discovered in the country just over a month ago.

Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) has expressed concerns the disease may threaten the Korean peninsula and countries in Southeast Asia if China does not stop the outbreak fast.

China's most recent African swine fever outbreak occurred on Sept 1 in the township of Changqing in north-eastern Heilongjiang province, about 100 km from the border with Russian Federation, where the disease has been spreading for more than a decade. The epidemic has killed a total of 12 pigs and sickened 39 in one local farm, MoARA said.

"By this Friday, we will come up with a framework for the region with priority action plans for each country", said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager of the FAO's Emergency Centre for Transboundary Animal Diseases, on Wednesday.

The seminar will review recent research studies and technologies and consider lessons from recent and ongoing episodes in Europe, it said. China's agriculture ministry recently announced it would close live hog markets in the affected provinces and would impose a ban on transporting pigs and pork products from the provinces.

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The six countries are China, Poland, Russia, Hungary, Moldova and Ukraine, he told reporters after a meeting on ASF risks with stakeholders and pig farmers.

The outbreaks have pushed up pork prices in the country's south and could have an imoact on global trade, with China likely to be forced to import more pork.

Highlighting the challenge though, South Korea had to ramp up quarantine measures at airports after finding a traveler carrying Chinese food infected with the disease.

"It may be very, very hard to control this epidemic in China".

Many countries, including Australia, ban pork and pork-containing products from China because of the risk of introduction of another livestock scourge, foot-and-mouth disease.

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