Anyone arriving in New Zealand from Indonesia will now have to disinfect their shoes via Biosecurity New Zealand floor mats, as the government tightens border security to try to keep foot and mouth disease out of the country.
It is hoped the trial mats will reduce the risk of travelers from Indonesia bringing the disease on their shoes, which could lead to an outbreak.
Border authorities in New Zealand and Australia have been on high alert since an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease was confirmed in Indonesia on April 28.
Earlier this month, the disease was also confirmed in the Bali holiday hotspot.
Biosecurity and Agriculture Minister Damien O’Connor said the disinfectant mats were part of a series of measures to keep the disease out.
“With foot-and-mouth disease recently discovered in the tourist hotspot of Bali, we have taken concrete steps to strengthen our work at the border in recent weeks, including a public awareness campaign,” O’Connor said.
“I call on everyone to be vigilant and play their part in protecting New Zealand’s economic security.”
The government has also launched an awareness campaign targeting travelers en route to Indonesia, audited the Indonesian palm tree, and provided PPE, disinfectants, backpack sprayers and other tools to Indonesia to help on the ground.
“We currently have no direct flights from Bali or anywhere else in Indonesia to New Zealand,” O’Connor said.
“Regardless of this, every passenger arrival card is screened and those from countries that have foot-and-mouth disease (including Indonesia) are directed through a different process of questioning, baggage search and disinfection.
“This means that if passengers are transiting through other airports, the risks are always taken into account.
“We also strongly urge anyone who has come into contact with livestock in Indonesia to stay away from farms and animals in New Zealand for a week.”
O’Connor urged farmers to check their livestock for symptoms of the disease, including high fever, mouth and foot blisters or erosions and lameness.
Anyone seeing pigs, goats, alpacas, llamas, cattle, sheep or deer showing potential symptoms of foot and mouth disease should contact MPI’s Exotic Pests and Diseases Helpline on 0800 80 99 66.
Industry group Beef and Lamb NZ supports MPI’s response, saying New Zealand has one of the strictest borders in the world.
Senior director of technical policy Chris Houston said any additional border protection measures were welcome.
Houston said while the risk to New Zealand from the Indonesian outbreak remained low, it reminded farmers to be strict about record keeping.
“We’ve been working with our farmers to help them understand the situation and to basically remind them of the biosecurity things that they need to be aware of and can do to help, like staying alert and watching the stock and knowing what to do s they see signs of illness.
“It is also very important that we maintain traceability of records, so NAIT (National Animal Identification and Tracing) records and then ASDs, or animal status declarations.
“These are the paper records of the movements of groups of sheep that move between farms.
“There is an electronic equivalent of the ASD which is currently being deployed by OSPRI, and we strongly encourage sheep farmers to consider using electronic ASDs in preference to paper forms, as this would be much more valuable in the case where we have an incursion of the disease and we need to trace it.”