South Korea will step up quarantine measures against bird flu ahead of the long holiday as a suspected case was reported in the country's southern region, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said Wednesday.
The ministry said an H7N7 strain of avian influenza (AI) was found in wild bird droppings that were collected in Yeongcheon, 344 kilometers southeast of Seoul on Sept. 13.
Following its discovery, health authorities issued a warning that banned local poultry farms from entering the wintering grounds of migratory birds and ordered the disinfection of farms adjacent to the site.
The ministry said it will implement strengthened quarantine measures in the coming weeks, as many people are expected to take trips around the country during the Chuseok holiday, which runs from Sept. 30 to Oct. 9.
The National Institute of Environmental Research will further look into the dropping sample to figure out whether it is a highly pathogenic virus strain or a milder version. The results will be announced Sept. 27, the ministry said.
The World Health Organization categorizes the highly pathogenic AI as a virus strain that results in a high death rate for birds.
The ministry, meanwhile, said it will implement heightened quarantine measures against bird flu and foot-and-mouth disease until May to lower the probability of outbreaks in the coming sensitive months.
The eight-month quarantine period, which is longer than usual, was set in consideration of the PyeongChang Winter Olympics taking place in February, it noted.
The government is also planning to conduct on-site inspections of small poultry farms in Gangwon Province, which will host the winter sports extravaganza, and limit the rearing of chickens and ducks in areas that are vulnerable to outbreaks.