Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has warned that an FMD outbreak in Indonesia could cost thousands of New Zealanders. workplacesas her country and neighboring Australia have tightened border biosecurity restrictions.
“While this does not pose a threat to humans, it will destroy our national herd. Basically, all split-headed animals are at risk,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
Ardern warned that the disease, first detected in Indonesia in April, could threaten up to 100,000 jobs in New Zealand’s agricultural sector.
Foot and mouth disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock.
This could have significant economic implications, especially for a country like New Zealand, which exported some 17 million sheep and two million cattle in the eight months to May 2022.
An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease has swept through two Indonesian provinces, killing thousands of cows and infecting hundreds of thousands more.
Ardern said New Zealand has never had an outbreak and wants to keep it that way by tightening border restrictions.
“We want to make sure we have all the settings in place to protect ourselves from this new threat,” she added.
There are currently no direct flights from Indonesia to New Zealand, but Ardern said it was important to prevent him from entering the country, possibly through Australian tourists visiting Southeast Asia.
Travelers from Indonesia will not be allowed to bring meat products into New Zealand, luggage will be checked, and disinfectant mats will appear at airports to clean shoes.
Australia is now checking parcels and luggage from China and Indonesia, and airports also have foot mats in response to the illness.
Canberra has so far rejected opposition calls to completely close the border with Indonesia, but does not rule out further measures.
Ardern said her government is working with the Australian authorities to try to reduce the risk even further.
New Zealand intends to fully open its borders at midnight Sunday to all visitors.
New Zealand Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor said “vigilance is absolutely essential” as the disease could also affect up to 77 percent of the country’s wildlife population, including wild deer, pigs and sheep.
He mentioned how foot-and-mouth disease devastated British agriculture in 2001, when millions of cattle and sheep had to be killed.