Government asks people to refrain from visiting hometown
Visitors walk past Barbary sheep at the Seoul Zoo in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, Wednesday after the zoo reopened following a 25-day closure to prevent animals there from being infected with foot-and-mouth disease and bird flu. Most of cloven-hoofed animals there are kept in the pens and visitors can see them through windows. / Yonhap
By Kim Rahn
The government recommended people not to visit regions affected with foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) during Seollal, or the Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on Feb. 3.
The recommendation comes as the deadly animal disease has been spreading rapidly despite the quarantine authorities’ efforts and is feared to spread further by people’s movement to hometowns across the nation.
Public Administration and Security Minister Maeng Hyung-kyu and Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Minister Yoo Jeong-bok issued a statement Wednesday to call for public cooperation for the authorities’ quarantine operations against FMD.
“We vaccinated all cows nationwide and will finish vaccinating all pigs before Seollal to minimize culling and stamp out the disease,” Maeng said.
He said this is the most critical period in the quarantine operation — after the animals are vaccinated and before they develop immunity. “The Seollal holiday, when many people move across the country, will be a critical moment in preventing the disease from further spreading, so your cooperation is essential. When going home, please restrain from visiting livestock farms. If you have to visit farms and FMD-affected regions, please make sure you and your vehicles are disinfected at quarantine posts,” he said.
The minister also said that even in this rampancy of the disease, dozens of people engaged in the livestock industry visit FMD-affected countries per day. “Please try not to visit such countries. If you have to go there, please report your trip to the quarantine authorities and follow disinfection measures at the airports or ports,” Maeng said.
According to the National Disaster Prevention and Countermeasures Headquarters, an average 55 people in the industry received quarantine examinations at the airports each day for the last week.
The ministers called for livestock farm workers to keep vigilant. “Those people are advised to disinfect farm facilities and prevent vehicles from moving to and from the farms for at least one month after vaccination.”
About two months have passed since the first outbreak of FMD and more than 2.7 million animals have been slaughtered. Almost all parts of the country have been affected with the virus, and only South Jeolla Province and Jeju Island currently remain free of the disease.