African swine fever confirmed in Hong Kong

African swine fever (ASF) has been confirmed at a slaughterhouse in Hong Kong, but plans to cull about 6,000 pigs have been hampered by meat traders, according to reports.

Hong Kong’s secretary for food and health Sophia Chan said the ASF virus was confirmed in a pig in the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse in the New Territories on Friday. The plant is reported to supply 80% of Hong Kong’s pork. The batch with the sick pig had reportedly already been released to the market before the disease was confirmed.

Ms Chan said all pigs in the slaughterhouse would be culled so that thorough cleansing and disinfection could be conducted. “The operation of the Sheung Shui slaughterhouse will be suspended until the completion of the disinfection work,” she said, adding that the government would enhance the surveillance and testing of pigs.

The order followed the revelation on Friday that a pig imported from Zhanjiang in China’s Guangdong province was infected with the virus, according to the Asia One news outlet. The batch with the sick pig had already been released to the market before the disease was confirmed.

Asia One also reports that pork traders were threatening to stand guard overnight to prevent officials from entering the city’s main slaughterhouse to cull some 6,000 pigs which they believed were safe for consumption.

This followed the decision by mainland China has suspended the transport of all live pigs to Hong Kong, causing pork prices to soar by as much as 40% on Saturday.

The temporary closure of other abattoirs meant there were no local pigs supplied to the market either.

Ms Chan said: We have already discussed this with mainland authorities … the importing of live pigs will be automatically stopped at the sites found with any confirmed cases of African swine fever.”

She Chan said the government had agreed to compensate traders based on market prices.

However, a pork industry representative said traders would ‘protect their property’ and stand guard at the slaughterhouse overnight, unless the government could prove the batch was infected. The representative also said they were prepared to launch a legal challenge against the government’s decision, after talks broke down late on Saturday.

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Editor of LBM titles Pig World and Farm Business and group editor of Agronomist and Arable Farmer. National Pig Association's webmaster. Previously political editor at Farmers Guardian for many years and also worked Farmers Weekly. Occasional farming media pundit. Brought up on a Leicestershire farm, now work from a shed in the garden in Oxfordshire. Big fan of Leicester City and Leicester Tigers. Occasional cricketer.