Taiwan President visits island where dead hog was found with African swine fever

Pork products from Kinmen not allowed to move off the island for 14 days

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President Tsai Ing-wen (front, second from right) inspects measures against African swine fever in Kinmen with county magistrate Yang Chen-wu (right).

President Tsai Ing-wen (front, second from right) inspects measures against African swine fever in Kinmen with county magistrate Yang Chen-wu (right). (By Central News Agency)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) - President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) visited the island of Kinmen Friday, asking for understanding from the local population for a 14-day ban on pork products after a hog carcass tested positive for African swine fever.

The test results on a dead pig which was found on a beach earlier in the week came out on Thursday, immediately triggering new measures. Related meat products will not be allowed to be moved from Kinmen to other parts of Taiwan for 14 days. Health inspectors will also review the island’s 68 hog farms, which house an estimated 11,000 animals.

During her visit Friday, the president asked for understanding and forgiveness, as she knew the ban would inconvenience the public, including shopkeepers selling food products to visitors.

Tsai underlined the dangers of African swine fever, adding that there could be no mistakes made in preventing the disease from reaching Taiwan, the Central News Agency reported.

Local businesses said they were willing to remove pork products from shelves, but they also noted that the ban came at an awkward time, just ahead of the Lunar New Year, when consumers buy more meat products.

Airports and harbors on Kinmen increased their messages targeting travelers arriving and leaving the island, warning them not to take meat products with them on board.

Taiwan has recently toughened up its measures against African swine fever as the disease expanded across China. The maximum fine for bringing in meat products from affected areas was raised to NT$200,000 (US$6,489), with repeat offenders facing a fine of NT$1 million. Despite the hikes, inspectors at Taiwan’s main airports have still found offenders on a daily basis.