Vietnam calls for 'drastic measures' to fight African swine fever

Pork is displayed for sale at a market in Hanoi, Vietnam February 19, 2019. REUTERS/Kham

HANOI (Reuters) – Vietnam’s prime minister has called for “drastic measures” to fight the spread of African swine fever in the Southeast Asian country, state media reported on Tuesday.

The highly contagious disease, which is incurable in pigs but harmless to humans, has spread rapidly across neighboring China since August, and has been found in seven areas in Vietnam, the state-run Vietnam News Service reported.

“We should combat the epidemic as if we are fighting against the enemy,” Phuc said in a meeting with regional officials on Monday, according to Tuesday’s report, which said Phuc had called for “drastic measures” from the “whole political system” to fight the disease.

From Feb. 1 to March 3, the fever was found in 202 households in seven cities or provinces in northern Vietnam, including in the capital, Hanoi, Vietnam’s government website reported.

Over 4,300 pigs have been infected and destroyed because of the virus, the website said, citing data from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development.

Vietnam produced 3.82 million tonnes of pork in 2018, equivalent to 72 percent of the country’s entire meat production, up 2.2 percent from 2017, the report said.

The virus started to spread at some locations around Hanoi during last week’s summit between U.S. President Donald Trump, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, after the first confirmed cases of the disease in Vietnam were found in three farms in Thai Binh and Hung Yen provinces.

Pork accounts for three-quarters of total meat consumption in Vietnam, a country of 95 million people where most of its 30 million farm-raised pigs are consumed domestically.

Reporting by Mai Nguyen and James Pearson; Editing by Joseph Radford

Our Standards:The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.