UPDATE : 2019.11.13 WED 09:20
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S. Korea reports 6th confirmed African swine fever case

South Korea on Sept. 25, 2019 confirmed yet another case of African swine fever (ASF), increasing the number of outbreaks of the deadly animal disease to six after the country reported its first outbreak last week.

Two suspected cases were reported at farms on Ganghwa Island in Incheon, around 60 kilometers west of Seoul, earlier in the day, with one testing positive and the other coming back negative.

Quarantine officials sets up a barricade near a pig farm infected with African swine fever on Ganghwa Island in Incheon, around 60 kilometers west of Seoul, on Sept. 25, 2019.

The agriculture ministry confirmed the fifth ASF case in the same location late Tuesday, raising concerns over the further spread of the highly contagious disease across the country despite massive disinfection efforts.

South Korea confirmed it first ASF case on Sept. 17, also near the heavily fortified border with North Korea. So far, all six confirmed cases have come from northern areas of Gyeonggi Province and Incheon.

Another suspected case reported in Yeoncheon, also near the border with the North, came back negative late Wednesday.

Although ASF does not affect people, it is fatal for pigs, with no cure currently available.

The agriculture ministry has been going all-out to stem the further spread of the highly contagious virus with quarantine operations in place for all parts of Gyeonggi Province and Incheon, along with the neighboring Gangwon Province.

On Tuesday, the quarantine authorities initiated a 48-hour movement ban on all pig farms and feed factories across the country.

The ministry said it has completed culling some 20,000 pigs so far, with more than 30,000 pigs set to be slaughtered.

Authorities have been slaughtering pigs within a 3-km radius of the farms infected with the fever, larger than the required 500-meter radius.

Quarantine officials are mobilizing 77 vehicles to spray disinfectant, while installing around 300 checkpoint posts in potentially affected areas, the ministry added.

The ASF cases came roughly four months after North Korea reported its first confirmed case of the disease -- at a farm near its border with China -- to the World Organization for Animal Health.

On Tuesday, South Korea's spy agency said pigs have been "wiped out" due to the disease in the North's northwestern Pyongan Province.

"It seems that North Korea's efforts to contain the disease did not fare well," the NIS said. "There are signs that ASF has spread all across North Korea."

The disease is mainly spread by contaminated feed or through direct contact of the virus with people and animals. South Korea has yet to determine what caused the outbreak in the country.

The virus first struck China in August 2018 and gradually expanded to other countries, including Mongolia, Vietnam and the Philippines. (Yonhap)

Cho Kyung-hee  edt@koreapost.com

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