An outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease in Indonesia, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern warned, could cost thousands of New Zealand jobs, as her country and neighboring Australia tightened border biosecurity restrictions. ‘ While it would not endanger humans, it would annihilate our national herd. Essentially, all cloven-hoofed animals are at risk ‘, Ardern told reporters in Wellington.
Ardern warned that the disease, which was discovered in Indonesia in April, could threaten up to 100,000 jobs in New Zealand’s agriculture sector. Foot and mouth disease is a serious and highly contagious viral disease that affects livestock. It has the potential to have a significant economic impact, particularly on New Zealand, which exported approximately 17 million sheep and two million cattle in the eight months leading up to May 2022.
Foot-and-mouth disease has killed thousands of cows and infected hundreds of thousands more in two Indonesian provinces. Ardern stated that New Zealand has never experienced an outbreak and intends to keep it that way by tightening border controls. ‘We want to ensure that we have all of our safeguards in place to protect ourselves from this emerging threat,’ she added. Ardern stated that preventing it from entering the country is critical, possibly through Australian tourists who have visited Southeast Asia.
Indonesian visitors will not be permitted to bring meat products into New Zealand. Baggage will be screened, and disinfectant mats will be available at airports to clean footwear. In response to the disease, parcels and baggage from China and Indonesia are now being checked in Australia, and airports now have foot mats. Canberra has so far rejected opposition calls to completely close the border with Indonesia, but further measures are not ruled out.
Ardern stated that her government is collaborating with Australian authorities to reduce the risk even further. New Zealand’s borders will be fully open to all visitors at midnight on Sunday. Biosecurity Minister Damien O’Connor of New Zealand stated that ‘vigilance is absolutely critical’ because the disease could affect up to 77 percent of the country’s wildlife population, including wild deer, pigs, and sheep. He mentioned how foot and mouth disease devastated British farming in 2001, killing millions of cattle and sheep.