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Australia New rules debated for travellers coming from Indonesia to Australia to stop foot-and-mouth disease

12:24  10 august  2022
12:24  10 august  2022 Source:   dailymail.co.uk

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Officials are reviewing whether to impose a total ban on food products being brought from Indonesia by travellers due to growing concerns over foot-and-mouth disease.

A Senate inquiry into Australia's response to the outbreak in Indonesia was told a total ban was possible should the situation worsen.

Travellers are already banned from bringing food products such as meat, while any other food items must be declared.

Officials are reviewing whether to impose a total ban on food products being brought from Indonesia amid growing foot and mouth disease fears (pictured, an infected cow in Indonesia) © Provided by Daily Mail Officials are reviewing whether to impose a total ban on food products being brought from Indonesia amid growing foot and mouth disease fears (pictured, an infected cow in Indonesia)

Agriculture department secretary Andrew Metcalfe told the inquiry on Wednesday the situation with the disease was constantly evolving.

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'There have been significant actions taken in relation to food being imported from Indonesia since the outbreak occurred, and many more categories of food unable to be imported,' he said.

'We are constantly reviewing the risk factors associated with any food imports and making changes accordingly.'

The impact on animal-based export products would be significant should foot-and-mouth disease be detected, the inquiry was told.

Australia has already introduced a range of foot-and-mouth disease prevention measures, including the use of sanitation mats to clean shoes at airports and agriculture events (pictured, the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane) © Provided by Daily Mail Australia has already introduced a range of foot-and-mouth disease prevention measures, including the use of sanitation mats to clean shoes at airports and agriculture events (pictured, the Royal Queensland Show in Brisbane)

While viral fragments of the disease have previously been found in pork products at a Melbourne retailer, Australia remains free of the disease with no live virus being found.

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The comments come after the government in July announced a $14 million biosecurity package to bolster frontline measures, including funding for 18 new biosecurity officers at airports and mail centres.

But the new officers won't be deployed until the end of September, the inquiry was told, with 45 contractors hired to fill the gaps until recruitment is complete.

Detector dogs have also been put in place at all airports with incoming flights from Indonesia, except for Adelaide where they would be stationed by the end of August, the inquiry was told.

Treasurer Jim Chalmers (above) told reporters in Rockhampton that protection of the beef industry was at the forefront of border decisions © Provided by Daily Mail Treasurer Jim Chalmers (above) told reporters in Rockhampton that protection of the beef industry was at the forefront of border decisions

Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the beef industry had to be protected from the threat of the disease.

'When it comes to foot-and-mouth disease, clearly we have had to act decisively as a new government to do what we can to minimise the risk,' he told reporters in Rockhampton.

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Australia is set to supply Indonesia with one million doses of vaccines for foot-and-mouth disease, set to arrive later in August.

Mr Metcalfe also told the hearing there were no discussions with other departments about the possibility of closing the border with Indonesia due to the threat of the disease.

The agriculture department said it was first made aware of advice about foot-and-mouth disease on May 6.

Mr Metcalfe said former agriculture minister David Littleproud did not order additional foot-and-mouth disease prevention tools, like sanitation mats (above) © Provided by Daily Mail Mr Metcalfe said former agriculture minister David Littleproud did not order additional foot-and-mouth disease prevention tools, like sanitation mats (above)

Mr Metcalfe said former agriculture minister David Littleproud did not ask the department to order more vaccines or foot mats to prevent the disease in Australia, following the advice being received.

However, the advice was received during the caretaker period before the federal election.

Mr Metcalfe said both Mr Littleproud and his then-opposition counterpart remained fully briefed at the time.

The risk of the highly contagious disease entering Australia in the next five years has been increased to 11.6 per cent after it spread to Bali.

The inquiry also examined the risk of varroa mites on Australia's bee population, with infestations at more than 80 premises in NSW.

As of Tuesday, there have been no new red zones or outbreak areas, with all 83 infested premises being near the original outbreak near Newcastle.

It's estimated 4,600 hives have been euthanised as a result of the varroa mite infestation.

Agriculture officials said while there have been multiple theories as to how the infestation originated, investigations were still ongoing into the exact cause.

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Press freedom is under attack in Indonesia .
With several courtroom battles ongoing, fates of countless journalists are hanging on the balance.The country is at a turning point following its transition at the end of the 20th century from military dictatorship to democracy.

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