TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Although Taiwan has taken the precautionary measure of inspecting carry-on baggage of all travelers from the Philippines, there have yet to be any confirmed cases of African swine fever (ASF) in the Philippines.
On Sunday (Aug. 18), Taiwan's Central Emergency Operation Center (CEOC) announced that all carry-on bags from the Philippines will be examined by X-ray machines at the airport and other ports of entry starting at midnight. The move was in response to reports that ASF cases had been detected in Bulacan and Rizal Provinces of the Philippines.
However, CNA cited Angelito Banayo, Manila Economic and Cultural Office (MECO) Chairman and the Philippines' representative to Taiwan as saying, "While there is no confirmation as to the presence of ASF in the Philippines, MECO respects the prerogative of Taiwan authorities to raise an airport alert on baggage brought in by visitors from the Philippines." Banayo told the news agency that the Philippines' Department of Agriculture (DA) is still conducting tests on the deceased hogs and have yet to conclusively determine that ASF has indeed spread to the country.
Agriculture Secretary William Dar would neither confirm, nor deny that ASF has reached the Philippines and has infected pigs, specifically in Rizal. Dar confirmed a report "on an increased mortality of pigs raised by farmers in their backyards," reported Philstar.
At a press conference on Monday (Aug. 19), Dar said, "We are conducting further confirmatory laboratory tests including sending blood samples to foreign laboratories to ascertain the cause of the animals’ death." He added that "We need to confirm the tests and we want to do it properly. Let us not make things worse. Allow us to do our jobs to fully look into this."
As DA officials await test results, they are hoping that the cause is actually hog cholera and not ASF, CNA cited a MECO official as saying. A Taiwanese businessman surnamed Hsieh (謝), who works in the pork industry, told CNA that authorities in Bulacan province have been burying pigs that died from an unconfirmed disease.
Travelers carrying pork products from ASF-affected countries to Taiwan without notifying the authorities will face a fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,300) for the first occurrence, and NT$1 million (US$31,600) after a second offense.
Violators may also face a fine of between NT$10,000 (US$316) and NT$30,000 (US$950) for bringing pork products from non-ASF-affected countries.