South Korea's farm minister said Friday that the country will maintain the highest level of bird flu quarantine regime during the PyeongChang Winter Games.
In a teleconference with government officials, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs Kim Yong-rok said that the government needs to be on high alert to deal with any developments going forward.
The call comes as the movement of large numbers of people across the country during the Lunar New Year holiday and the Winter Olympic Games requires extra effort to prevent the spread of avian influenza (AI).
The new year called Seol in Korean is one of the most important traditional holidays in the country, with people visiting their families in their hometowns and paying respects to ancestors. This year the holiday, which is set by the lunar calendar, falls on Friday.
South Korea's alpine resort town of PyeongChang, 180 kilometers east of Seoul, is currently hosting the Winter Olympics that runs through Feb. 25. It will host the Paralympics from March 9-18.
"The time of the Paralympics that takes place in March coincides with the movement of migratory birds around the Korean Peninsula," the policymaker said.
There has been sporadic bird flu outbreaks reported in the country with some even occurring in Gyeonggi Province, which is not too far from PyeongChang in neighboring Gangwon Province. Since the middle of November last year, some 18 bird flu cases have been confirmed so far.
From late 2016 through early 2017, the Northeast Asian country reported 342 such cases, requiring thousands of birds to be culled.
Seoul has placed some 2,033 government officials on standby over the four-day holiday, with all regional governments maintaining 24-hour emergency response centers to identify new outbreaks and prevent the spread of the highly contagious disease. Yonhap)