WELLINGTON (Reuters) – New Zealand on Monday urged travellers returning from Indonesia to take extra precautions and in some cases to stay away from farms for at least a week to prevent a local foot and mouth outbreak that could devastate the crucial livestock industry.
“New Zealand has never had an outbreak, and we want to do all we can to keep it that way,” Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at her weekly news conference.
Indonesia, including popular tourist destination Bali, have recently had an outbreak of foot and mouth disease, raising the risk that the virus could reach New Zealand.
Foot and mouth disease is a highly contagious animal disease that affects cattle, sheep, goats, deer, llamas and pigs but does not pose a threat to humans.
Central bank modelling projects that a widespread foot and mouth outbreak in New Zealand would have an estimated direct economic impact of around NZ$10 billion ($6.23 billion) after two years.
Australia has also stepped up its precautions against the disease.
Ardern said Biosecurity New Zealand, the country’s agency to keep pests and diseases out of the country, is stopping any traveller from bringing personal consignments of meat products from Indonesia and requiring them to use footmats to wash their shoes at airports when they return.
“To all New Zealanders and travellers please be responsible. Please be honest and thorough in your biosecurity declarations as you return from overseas travel,” she said.
She stressed that any travellers who had interacted with animals in a country known to have foot and mouth must stay away from farms for a week.
Ardern said ports were also taking extra precautions to make sure that nothing, including shipping containers, coming into the country from Indonesia might be contaminated.
($1 = 1.6041 New Zealand dollars)
(Reporting by Lucy Craymer; Editing by Edmund Klamann)
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