A special inter-ministerial operation has been launched to investigate the smuggling of meat products from China, where a highly contagious and deadly virus that causes African swine fever (ASF) is spreading through hog farms, according to the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture (COA) on Friday.
Just one day earlier, China's Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MoARA) announced that ASF has broken out in Jiamusi, a prefecture-level city in Heilongjiang province that borders Russian Federation.
The largest of the three farms had 203 pigs, while the smallest had only 30 pigs.
Since then, five other cases have been reported in other areas of China as much as 1,000 kilometers apart.
The three-day meeting, to head off an outbreak of African swine fever across Asia, led by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) brings together specialists in animal diseases as well as agricultural policy from nine countries neighbouring China.
ASF outbreaks in China are now on the rise with a 100 percent mortality rate as there is now no effective vaccine.
"It may be very, very hard to control this epidemic in China".
In fact, early in March, the FAO had already warned China about the ASF risk by publishing a report under the title of "African swine fever threatens People's Republic of China". "China's northeastern region (Heilongjiang province) is where ASF is most likely to be introduced, followed by Inner Mongolia".
Information from August shows that the virus has spread rapidly in the mainland and there is the fear that infected pork in China might be used to make processed food products which could end up in Taiwan, Lin said.
"By this Friday, we will come up with a framework for the region with priority action plans for each country", said Wantanee Kalpravidh, regional manager of FAO's Emergency Center for Transboundary Animal Diseases, in an interview on Wednesday.