HANOI, Jun 5, 2019, VN Express. The African swine fever epidemic, which has claimed the lives of over 2.2 million pigs, has cost Vietnam VND3.6 trillion ($154 million). Animal health officials from the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development informed a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the cost included fees for culling infected pigs and sanitization chemicals, reported the VN Express.
“We’ve never seen damage like this before, including those caused by natural disasters in the past,” said Hoang Thi To Nga, deputy head of the Department of Agriculture and Rural Development in the northern province of Nam Dinh.
In a statement on Monday, Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc compared the fight against the disease to a fight against invaders.
As of Monday, the virus had spread to 53 of 63 provinces and cities of Vietnam. Da Nang is the latest to join the list, leaving Ho Chi Minh City as the only one among the country’s five major cities still free of the disease. Hanoi, Hai Phong and Can Tho have all recorded infections.
Without proper procedures to contain the disease, coupled with complicated weather patterns, the disease may spread to new areas, re-infect former areas and attack large-scale farms, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development Nguyen Xuan Cuong said last week.
African swine fever, which has no cure but does not affect humans, was first spotted in Vietnam in early February. It quickly spread across the northern and central regions before reaching the south in early May.
Vietnam has the seventh largest number of pigs in the world, 30 million, and is the sixth largest pork producer. Pig farming provides a livelihood to 2.4 million households, according to official figures.
Pork makes up 70 percent of the average Vietnamese diet. The government said earlier this month it is considering mobilizing the military and police to help combat the outbreak.
Latest data from the World Organization for Animal Health shows 11 countries and territories are suffering from new or ongoing outbreaks of the disease: Belgium, Hungary, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, and Ukraine in Europe, mainland China, Hong Kong and Vietnam in Asia, and South Africa.