Taiwan bolsters border security against African swine fever

Kaohsiung airport hosts African swine fever simulation exercise

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Customs official inspects bag.

Customs official inspects bag. (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – To bolster preparedness against African swine fever, Taiwan authorities held an emergency quarantine simulation exercise at Kaohsiung International Airport today, reported CNA.

The exercise hopes to boost deterrence and detection of people bringing potentially infected food products into Taiwan.

The exercise came about after Taiwan Premier William Lai (賴清德) called for airports, customs, and quarantine units to strengthen border security in the face of growing concern over spread of African swine fever. Lai was also present to inspect the event today.

The simulation was based on the scenario of a passenger traveling from Xiamen, China to Kaohsiung. Upon arrival, the passenger’s bags were checked by a sniffer dog, before being inspected by a customs official.

The sniffer dog is trained to detect meat products concealed in luggage, and will sit once the contraband is smelled.

The exercise revealed that customs officials are equipped with disinfectant spray, which will be used on the spot, if an item suspected of carrying African swine fever is found.

After the exercise, Lai noted that the simulation was realistic, and he hopes passengers take heed of the various warnings against smuggling meat into Taiwan.

Lai emphasized that people should not bring meat products into Taiwan, noting that there is no vaccine, and the fever poses significant risks to Taiwan’s meat industry.

As African swine fever has spread throughout China in recent weeks, Taiwan has improved public information about Taiwan’s quarantine laws.

Some of these measures included improved signage, sending of a text message to people upon arrival to Taiwan, and an increased the fine for those caught breaking the law.

Despite these warnings, a host of Chinese citizens have been caught in recent days, causing confusion and concern among Taiwan’s border force.

Taiwan News reported that China’s restrictive media environment has contributed to this problem, where many tourists are unaware of the severity and risks of African swine fever.