Taiwan expands hand luggage checks to four more Asian countries

Taipei-All hand luggage brought into Taiwan by passengers from Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei will be subject to customs checks starting Sept. 6 as part of the government's efforts to prevent African swine fever (ASF), which has spread across Asia, from reaching Taiwan.

Currently, the hand luggage of all travelers entering Taiwan from Myanmar, China, Russia, Mongolia, Hong Kong, Macau, the Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, North Korea and South Korea are subject to customs checks, according to the Central Emergency Operation Center for ASF.

Although there have been no reports of outbreaks of ASF in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, expanding hand luggage checks to include arrivals from those countries is a precautionary measure to keep the disease at bay, the center said.

Visitors from ASF-affected and high risk countries/areas who attempt to bring pork products into Taiwan are subject to a fine of NT$200,000 if they are first-time offenders, while repeat offenders face a fine of NT$1 million, according to Taiwan's regulations.

Meanwhile, travelers bringing pork products into Taiwan from countries free of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD), an acute infectious viral disease of livestock, risk a fine of not less than NT$10,000 (US$320), the center said.

Visitors from FMD-affected countries like Indonesia, Brunei and Malaysia who attempt to bring pork products into Taiwan are subject to a fine of at least NT$30,000, according to the center.

With the approach of the Mid-Autumn Festival, the center reminded all passengers entering Taiwan not to bring in moon cakes containing pork.

From Aug. 1 to Sept. 4, there were 18 cases involving passengers entering Taiwan from Japan, China, Hong Kong, Macau and Vietnam with moon cakes that had pork fillings, the center said.

Taiwan is on high alert, concerned that the spread of ASF virus could hit its pig farming industry, which is worth NT$80 billion per year.

Although ASF does not affect humans, the virus is deadly to pigs and there is no known cure or vaccine.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel