TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – As more passengers are found bringing mooncakes containing pork into the country, the authorities are mulling checking the carry-on luggage of all travelers arriving in Taiwan from Asian countries in a renewed effort to keep African swine fever out of the country, reports said Wednesday (September 4).
At present, only passengers arriving from a total of 10 countries or territories where African swine fever is widespread, such as China and Vietnam, or where the Taiwanese authorities deem the risks are high, such as Thailand and the Philippines, have their carry-on luggage checked upon arrival at Taiwanese airports.
However, in the past few weeks, with the Mid-Autumn Festival (September 13) approaching, several passengers have been found in possession of traditional mooncakes containing pork, the Central News Agency reported.
Officials said expanding the checks of hand baggage to all arrivals from Asia, or even from anywhere in the world, would not present a problem as the airport X-ray systems could handle a maximum of 4,000 items an hour.
While some countries were not regarded as African swine fever areas according to the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE), Taiwan nevertheless still required passengers arriving from those areas to have all their luggage checked, according to CNA.
The list featured China, Hong Kong, Macau, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, Myanmar, the Philippines, South Korea and Russia. North Korea and Laos were also deemed African swine fever areas, but neither country had direct flights to Taiwan, officials said.
Anyone found to be carrying banned meat products from overseas faces a fine of NT$200,000 (US$6,380) and a ban on entering Taiwan if they refuse to pay. The fine surges to NT$1 million for a second violation.