Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has reaffirmed his stance on closing international borders after an outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease in cattle in Indonesia. Ministers across Australia, as well as farmers and other agricultural sector officials, are appealing for borders to be locked since the viral outbreak could cause catastrophic damages to Australia’s beef industry.
Newspapers in Australia are suggesting that Indonesia has lost control of the outbreak after 22 provinces, including Bali, have been given a red list status after a stream of positive cases was detected. Local news in Bali has gone quiet on the issue in recent days after announcing the culling of over 60 heads of cattle who tested positive earlier in the month.
Both the Australian and New Zealand governments have pledged financial and technical support to Indonesia to help curb the spread. The Agriculture Minister for Australia Murray Watt has announced a relief package of AUD 14 million to help stop the virus from entering the country.
The emergency funds are being used to implement new biosecurity measures across airports in Australia, including the introduction of detection dogs. A further AUD 5 million is being sent to Indonesia, Timor Leste, and Papua New Guinea to help halt the virus in its tracks.
Speculation has been rising about a potential ban on Australians visiting Bali and other parts of Indonesia, but PM Albanese has told the press ahead of parliament opening that he is refusing to shut the Australian-Indonesia border. He told reporters that the new biosecurity measures are the ‘strongest ever measures introduced by an Australian government’.
He confirmed that closing borders to the popular holiday destination were not necessary and that the biosecurity measures and awareness campaigns launched by his government were approved by the National Farmers Federation.
He explained that they’re doing ‘everything within our power to stop this disease coming into Australia which of course would have a severe impact on our economy…What we’re trying to avoid is an impact by definition on our trade. And you don’t do that by just jumping to a position that the former government never, ever implemented’.
PM Albanese expressed his gratitude to the agricultural sector for their support and said ‘I thank them for the co-operation, the advice and engagement that they’re having with the government…It’s important to note that Australia is foot and mouth disease free, that our products continue to be available to the world and it’s important that we try to do everything that we can to maintain that position’.
For travelers heading to Bali from Australia the situation is clear. Borders are open and there are additional biosecurity measures upon your return. This includes a more detailed screening and risk-profiling procedure.
Travelers are being advised to leave their flip-flops in Bali since these are very difficult to sanitize. Travelers are being urged to be cooperative with border officials and honest on their customs declarations.
It is safe to visit rural and agricultural areas in Bali, foot and mouth disease does not affect humans. Foot and Mouth Disease affects animals with cloven feet such as cows, pigs, and goats. It is important that travelers adhere to the sanitizing protocols to help prevent the spread within Bali and internationally.
People can form a bio-bridge for the virus to spread since it survives on living tissue and secretions. The virus can survive in dirt and mud and this is why travelers are being asked to walk across sanitation mats upon their return to Australia. Those who fit the risk profiling criteria may be asked to have their luggage and other belongings sanitized to ensure that they are not risking bringing the virus into Australia.
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