South Korea beefs up quarantine measures against bird flu
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs heightened its alert level of avian influenza (AI) after a H5N6 strain was confirmed at a layer chicken farm in Pocheon, 46 kilometers north of Seoul, earlier in the day.
The virus has spread mainly in Jeolla Province with nine highly pathogenic cases since mid-November, but the first outbreak in Gyeonggi Province prompted stronger quarantine measures as the area is close to Gangwon Province, the host of the PyeongChang Olympics, which runs from Feb. 9-25.
"The government will put concerted efforts in cooperation with the livestock industry to contain further spread of AI in the run up to PyeongChang Winter Games," Agriculture Minister Kim Yong-rok said in a briefing. "We will also closely monitor the supply chain of poultry for stable market.
Following the report of a suspected case, the government on Wednesday imposed a 48-hour standstill order on poultry, equipment and livestock breeders in Gyeonggi Province and Cheorwon, east of Pocheon.
The government also culled 313,000 chickens within 500 meters radius of the affected farm and will cull 384,000 more in the nearby region as part of preventive measures.
The ministry said it will also step up inspections of duck farms in southwestern region, a major duck producing region, and ban entry of poultry to Gangwon Province to prevent further spread of the highly contagious virus. ■