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(LEAD) Gov't bans movement of poultry, farmers to prevent spread of AI

2015/01/15 12:02

SEJONG, Jan. 15 (Yonhap) -- The government on Thursday ordered a halt in the movement of all birds, poultry farmers and vehicles to prevent the further spread of bird flu.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the ban will go into effect as of 6 a.m. Saturday and stay in place until 6 p.m. Sunday. A total of 106,000 people will be affected along with 31,000 facilities.

Failure to follow the order could result in a maximum fine of 10 million won (US$9,220) or a prison term of less than one year.

The ministry said the order has been issued in consultation with poultry farmers and agricultural cooperatives and that the farmers were given time to stock up on feed.

"Because poultry farmers actively asked for the measure, we expect they will actively adhere to it," said Lee Chun-il, head of the ministry's livestock policy division.

During the 36-hour period, birds, farms and all vehicles that have been used will be decontaminated thoroughly, he said.

"The central government urges local administrations to actively participate and enforce decontamination for maximum effect," he said.

The latest move marks the third large-scale effort to decontaminate poultry farms and related facilities since the first case of bird flu was reported late last year.

Lee, however, noted that while sporadic outbreaks have occurred, it is too early to say whether bird flu is spreading throughout the country. He speculated that most of the cases are being caused by migratory birds that fly into South Korea during the winter months.

The ministry said the movement of cars that move cloven-hoofed animals will be restricted over the weekend as well to help stem the spread of foot-and-mouth disease that has also broken out in the country.

yonngong@yna.co.kr

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