Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned that a foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia could cost thousands of jobs in New Zealand as her country and neighboring Australia stepped up biosecurity restrictions at its borders.
“While it is not a threat to humans, it would devastate our national herd. Essentially, all cloven-hoofed animals are at risk,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
Ardern warned that the disease, first discovered in Indonesia in April, has the potential to threaten up to 100,000 jobs in New Zealand’s agricultural sector.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a serious, highly contagious viral disease in livestock.
It could have a significant economic impact, especially for a country like New Zealand that exported about 17 million sheep and two million cattle in the eight months to May 2022.
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has swept through two Indonesian provinces, killing thousands of cows and infecting hundreds of thousands more.
Ardern said New Zealand has never had an outbreak – and wants to keep it that way by tightening border restrictions.
“We want to make sure we have all our institutions in place to protect ourselves from this emerging threat,” she added.
There are currently no direct flights from Indonesia to New Zealand, but Ardern said it is important to avoid entering the country, possibly via Australian tourists who have visited Southeast Asia.
Travelers from Indonesia are not allowed to bring meat products into New Zealand, baggage is screened and disinfectant mats are placed at airports to clean footwear.
In Australia, parcels and luggage from China and Indonesia are now being checked and there are also floor mats at airports in response to the disease.
Canberra has so far rejected opposition calls to close its border with Indonesia completely, but further measures are not ruled out.
Ardern said her government is working with Australian authorities to try to further reduce the risk.
New Zealand will fully open its borders to all visitors at midnight on Sunday.
New Zealand’s Biosafety Minister Damien O’Connor said “vigilance is absolutely crucial” as the disease can also affect up to 77 percent of the country’s wildlife, including wild deer, pigs and sheep.
He referred to how foot-and-mouth disease devastated British agriculture in 2001 when millions of cattle and sheep had to be slaughtered.
Foot and Mouth Disease and the Efforts to Stop It
© 2022 AFP
Quote: Foot-and-mouth disease outbreak in Indonesia leads to restrictions in NZ, Australia (2022, July 25) Retrieved July 25, 2022 from https://medicalxpress.com/news/2022-07-indonesia-foot-mouth-outbreak-prompts. html
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