Farmers quarantining themselves for New Year

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Farmers quarantining themselves for New Year

Ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, livestock farmers are voluntarily cutting themselves off from their family and friends in fear that visitors might infect their farms with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) or avian influenza A, fencing themselves in, shutting down roads and closing local markets.

Residents of Gaya, Hongseong County, South Chungcheong, have blocked off roads leading to their village to fend off visitors from contagious regions since Jan. 11. Gaya is free of FMD.

Kim Yeong-pal, the 52-year-old head of the village, said, “We are willing to bear more inconveniences if we can successfully fend off the FMD virus.”

Kim said that all necessities delivered to the village are transported in a truck sprayed with disinfectant.

In Danyang, North Chungcheong, an association of local merchants has shut down the village’s largest market since Friday to ward off merchants from contaminated areas. Danyang is also FMD-free.

“We ask merchants and shoppers at the market to take into consideration the importance of preventing this disastrous disease from infecting us, even though they are inconvenienced by the closing of the market,” said Kim Jae-hong, representative of the association.

The association said the market will reopen after FMD is eradicated.

Even in infected regions, residents are staying put and telling their relatives to stay away during the Lunar New Year to avoid spreading FMD.

In Igok, Jincheon County, North Chungcheong, residents have decided to stay in their village since it became infected Jan. 8, unless they have to visit a hospital in neighboring cities for an emergency.

“My middle son was supposed to come to my house during the holidays but he couldn’t do it because of FMD,” said Lee Byeong-hwa, a 52-year-old representative of the village.

Cho Byung-don, mayor of Incheon, Gyeonggi, where 89,667 animals have been culled since the outbreak of FMD on Dec. 26, sent a letter on Jan. 14 to village heads urging residents to refrain from leaving the city during the holidays. “We ask you to refrain from visiting your hometowns during the Lunar New Year holiday and cooperate with local quarantine services in disinfecting your cars,” the letter read. Roughly 30 local markets in Gyeonggi have been closed due to FMD and AI viruses.

By Shin Jin-ho, Kim Hee-jin [heejin@joongang.co.kr]


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