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Horse movement ban continues in Australia, racing could resume in most areas by weekend

Horse movement ban continues in Australia, racing could resume in most areas by weekend

Racing is expected to resume in most Australian states by the weekend, but the movement of all horses continues to be banned following the country's first outbreak of equine influenza.
A casualty of the equine emergency is the mounted police unit that was scheduled to help with security and crowd control at next week's Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) meeting. U.S. President George Bush, along with 20 other world leaders, is scheduled to attend the meeting in Sydney.
Up to eight police horses were showing signs of equine influenza and all 36 horses at an inner-Sydney depot are now under quarantine. Police said Tuesday that while there would be an impact on their ability to deal with protesters, the protection of visiting dignitaries would not be compromised.
The ban has also forced the iconic Birdsville Cup, a bush race in northwest Queensland state that attracts thousands of revelers each year, to be canceled.
The 12-race program, scheduled for this weekend, was canceled Tuesday _ only the second time the Birdsville races have been stopped in their 125-year history. The first was during World War II.
Racing was halted across Australia on Saturday, three days after the discovery of equine flu in a stallion at a quarantine facility in eastern Sydney and subsequently at an equestrian complex at Sydney's Centennial Park.
The respiratory disease knocks a horse out of action for two to three weeks with a fever, hacking cough, nasal discharge and tiredness. Virtually all horses exposed to the virus become sick, making it particularly dangerous _ and costly _ for the racing community.
The disease is not infectious to humans.
On Tuesday, Agriculture Minister Peter McGauran said an undetermined number of horses at more than 80 properties are infected with the illness in New South Wales and Queensland states.
"We still cannot track the actual source of the infection and therefore blame or liability cannot be assigned," McGauran said. "We just don't know."
He said it was possible the virus had not come from overseas.
"You would assume that because we've never had it in Australia before ... but it might have been dormant and come to the surface," he said.
McGauran said all horse movements were banned across the country until Friday, and that racing will likely resume in most of Australia on the weekend except in New South Wales and Queensland.
"There's a good chance that racing will resume in Darwin, Perth and Tasmania because they have natural geographical quarantine barriers and Adelaide and Melbourne have a good chance as well," he said.
"Sydney and Brisbane are very problematical and you can almost say with certain that they will not be racing this weekend."


Updated : 2021-03-04 12:09 GMT+08:00