Gov’t pools agencies to better combat FMD
Korea has set up a governmental crisis center in an effort to contain the outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) that has spread through the country, the government said yesterday.
The highly contagious disease, first found on Nov. 29 at farms about 270 kilometers (168 miles) southeast of Seoul, has spread to other parts of the country since.
In a joint statement, the Ministry of Public Administration and Security and the Ministry for Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said the central antidisaster headquarters will take charge of quarantine, decontamination and vaccination efforts currently underway and pool all available resources in an effort to end the outbreaks.
“The government will use all available resources, including the police, to help stem the disease that has continued to spread despite nationwide quarantine efforts,” the statement said.
In addition, the country’s alert level will be raised to “red” - the highest in a four-tiered response scheme - to reflect the seriousness of the situation.
The last time Seoul issued a red alert was when the country tried to combat the human Influenza A outbreaks in the second half of 2009.
The farm ministry, meanwhile, said it has expanded areas that will be given animal vaccines to control the spread of FMD. The first vaccines were administered on Saturday.
The emergency measures are needed since the disease is spreading much faster than anticipated, officials said, admitting that they have not been able to determine why, despite 1,391 checkpoints in key areas and the closure of all 85 livestock markets.
So far, more than 523,000 animals have been ordered to be culled from a total of around 1.5 million cattle, pigs, goats, sheep and deer raised in the country, with losses estimated to exceed 450 billion won ($393 million).