Indonesia foot and mouth outbreak prompts NZ, Australia restrictions
New Zealand Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia could cost thousands of New Zealand jobs, as her nation and neighboring Australia stepped up border biosecurity restrictions.
“While not a threat to humans, it would devastate our national herd. Essentially, all animals that are of cloven hoof are at risk,” Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
Ardern warned that the disease, first detected in Indonesia in April, has the potential to threaten up to 100,000 jobs in New Zealand’s agriculture sector.
Foot-and-mouth disease is a severe, highly contagious viral disease of livestock.
It can have a significant economic impact, especially on a country like New Zealand which exported around 17 million sheep and 2 million cattle in the eight months up until May 2022.
A foot-and-mouth outbreak has ripped through two Indonesian provinces, killing thousands of cows and infecting hundreds of thousands more.
Ardern said New Zealand has never had an outbreak – and wants to keep it that way by tightening border restrictions.
There are currently no direct flights from Indonesia to New Zealand, but Ardern said it is important to stop it from entering the country, potentially via Australian tourists who had visited Southeast Asia.
Travelers from Indonesia will not be allowed to bring meat products into New Zealand, baggage will be screened and there will be disinfectant mats at airports to clean footwear.
In Australia, parcels and baggage from China and Indonesia are now being checked and there are also foot mats at airports in response to the disease.
Canberra has so far rejected opposition calls to close the border to Indonesia completely, but further measures have not been ruled out.
Ardern said her government is working with Australian authorities to try to further reduce the risk.