The Australian Government has announced it has deported a 44-year-old Vietnamese woman who imported, without declaring, more than 10 kilograms of animal products including pork, in the face of the growing threat of African swine fever.
Agriculture Minister Bridget McKenzie announced today the decision taken by the border authorities in Sydney on Saturday, saying Canberra is committed to preventing the disease from entering Australia.
“We deported a 44-year-old woman for violating our biosafety rules. We have to maintain the current state of being free from the African swine fever that has spread throughout Europe and Asia over the past eight months, ”he said.
The deportation, he explained, was deliberate as part of a significant increase in control measures to prevent the disease from entering Australia, which would endanger more than 2,700 products and 36,000 jobs.
Among the preventive measures, he explained, the Australian Government has sent experts to Timor-Leste.
“It has been proven that the disease has reached Timor. Our vets are working with the East Timorese authorities trying to design a plan to eradicate the disease in Timor-Leste, ”he said.
"We have also sent dogs to Darwin to assist with the process of checking direct flights from Dili," he said.
Regarding the disease as “one of the biggest animal health threats in the world,” McKenzie explained that tests on pig products imported into Australia show an increase in disease prevalence since the beginning of the year.
According to him, since the beginning of the year, the Government has detected more than 27 tons of pork products, and the contamination level increased from 15% at the beginning of the year to almost half in September.
“In recent months we have been working to monitor more and better both passengers and cargo. We have 3D scans and more attention to inspections. Data show that there are more and more products contaminated with African swine fever, ”he said.
McKenzie said the woman deported over the weekend did not declare the products, explaining that "not declaring these products is a violation of biosafety law."
"Her tourist visa has been canceled and she will not be able to visit Australia in the next three years," he said.
It is recalled that earlier this month the East Timorese authorities announced that about 400 pigs on farms died of swine fever, a disease that is decimating cattle in China, North Korea and South Korea.
"Since 19 September, the Ministry has compiled information on the deaths of 400 pigs," reads a statement issued by the Ministry of Agriculture, which requested assistance from Australia.
This disease does not threaten humans but causes haemorrhagic fever in animals and is usually fatal with no epidemic vaccine, so the only solution is to slaughter sticks where some pigs are infected.
Today China banned the entry of pork from East Timor due to the outbreak of African swine fever detected in the archipelago.
According to a public notice issued today by the General Administration of China Customs but dated last Saturday, the direct or indirect importation or transportation of pigs, wild boars or “derived products” from Timor-Leste is now prohibited.
Anyone who violates the ban will be punished according to law, Customs stresses, and the animals or products will be returned to the archipelago or destroyed.
If China serves only as a point of passage for animals or products to another market, the vehicle in which it follows the goods should be sealed and only opened with the permission of the Chinese customs, explains the announcement.