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China heightens biosecurity as African swine fever continues rampage

China's agriculture ministry has announced that pork processors will be subject to heightened biosecurity measures as cases of ASF in China and neighbouring Vietnam continue to emerge.

4 April 2019, at 10:57a.m.

China's agriculture ministry has announced it will require pork processors handling raw pork to test for the presence of the African swine fever virus from 1 May, Reuters reports.

The tougher procedures come as the virus continues to spread through the world's largest pig herd. It has often been found in food products. The disease, which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread rapidly across China before hitting Vietnam in February.

This week China's agriculture ministry confirmed the first cases of ASF in the northwestern Chinese region of Xinjiang and new cases in the southwestern province of Yunnan. The outbreak in Xinjiang occurred on a farm with 200 live pigs in the city of Urumqi, infecting 15 of the animals and killing 15. The outbreak in Yunnan, found on a group of 10 pig farms in the city of Shangri-La with 301 hogs in total, killed 105 of the animals, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said on its website.

Processors should now be inspected and show certificates to demonstrate that purchased pig products, including imported meat, do not contain the virus, said a notice published on the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs' website. Provincial market supervision departments will organise sampling of pork products to check for the virus, it added.

Meanwhile, Cambodia has reported its first outbreak of ASF in backyard pigs near the Vietnam border, the Paris-based World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) said this week, citing the Cambodian agriculture ministry.

Some 400 pigs were killed in Soamkanign in the Rattanakiri province in an outbreak that began on 22 March, according to the Cambodian agriculture ministry's report. Another 100 pigs were killed and disposed of.