Sunday, May 26, 2024

Foot mat trial rolled out in FMD fight

Measures to further protect New Zealand’s economy from foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) will include the use of disinfected foot mats for arriving travellers from Indonesia, Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor has announced.

“With FMD recently found in the tourist hotspot of Bali, we’ve taken concrete steps to boost our work at the border in recent weeks including a public awareness campaign,” said Minister O’Connor.

“Biosecurity New Zealand will this week begin using foot mats with disinfecting chemicals for arrivals from Indonesia to step onto in a trial to help ensure their footwear is clean of the virus – adding another layer of protection to the measures introduced last week.”

Other recent measures taken by the Government to protect against FMD include an on-the-ground audit of the palm kernel supply chain in Indonesia; the launch of an FMD Readiness Taskforce to ensure all preparedness work is refreshed; regular updates to primary sector partners and the country’s veterinary network; provision of personal protective equipment, disinfectant, backpack sprayers and other tools to Indonesia to help on the ground. 

Minister O’Connor said the New Zealand Government had made significant biosecurity investments in recent years to boost critical diagnostic, surveillance and investigative capability to deal with high-impact animal diseases like FMD. 

“We do not currently have any flights directly from Bali or elsewhere in Indonesia to New Zealand. Regardless of this, every passenger arrival card is examined and those from countries that have FMD (including Indonesia) are directed to a different process of questioning, baggage search and disinfection. This means that should passengers transit other airports, risks are still addressed,” Minister O’Connor said. 

“Biosecurity New Zealand’s experts are providing me regular advice on the FMD situation overseas and we’ll be flexible in our approach.  

“We also strongly urge anyone who was in contact with livestock in Indonesia, to stay away from farms and animals in New Zealand for one week. 

“We also ask if anyone sees their pigs, goats, alpacas, llamas, cattle, sheep or deer with symptoms including high fever, mouth and feet blisters or erosions and lameness, to call their veterinarian or MPI’s exotic pest and disease hotline (0800 80 99 66). “

He said New Zealand would continue to work closely with its Australian counterparts and primary sector partners to raise FMD awareness. 

“Our primary sector earned New Zealand a record $52.2 billion this year and is forecast to reach $56.8 billion by 2026. It’s essential that our world class biosecurity systems are continually improving so we can maintain this growth,” said Minister O’Connor.

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