South Korea to temporarily ease bird flu-related culling rules

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Seoul, Feb. 15 (BNA): South Korea said Monday it plans to temporarily ease precautionary measures against bird flu as the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza has slowed.

 

The country plans to destroy the same kind of poultry within a 1-kilometer radius of infected farms for the next two weeks, when bird flu cases are reported, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, South Korean News Agency (Yonhap) reported.

 

The country has so far culled 26 million poultry under its policy of destroying all birds within a 3-km radius of infected farms.

 

The ministry said it will instead conduct virus tests on all poultry within a 3-km radius of affected farms.

 

Local farmers have complained about authorities' policy of culling all birds, claiming that the excessive measures led to a hike in prices of poultry goods, which only ended up benefiting importers.

 

The highly contagious H5N8 strain of avian influenza has ravaged local chicken farms across the nation since November last year. Authorities have identified 95 bird flu cases at local poultry farms.

 

The ministry said it will continue to implement strengthened measures to curb the spread of bird flu.

 

To intensify quarantine efforts, the country will disinfect surrounding areas of affected farms and access pathways every day, according to the ministry.

 

Prices of eggs here have jumped about 28 percent so far this year amid a supply shortage caused by the outbreak of bird flu.

 

To stabilize rising egg prices, the government plans to further import 24 million fresh eggs by the end of this month. Large food processing companies will be permitted to import 1,180 tons of egg products by June.

 

The country temporarily removed tariffs on imported egg products on Jan. 28 in an effort to ease a supply shortage.

 

H.F.