Africa Swine Fever: Is China downplaying another disease outbreak?


China might praise its own success in its handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, but it remains quieter about its fight against a rampant African Swine Fever outbreak at home. During a teleconference more than two years ago, Chinese Vice-Premier Hu Chunhua urged health authorities to step up efforts to rein in a growing outbreak despite initial “positive results,” and suggested that “enhancing quarantine and monitoring” measures would help prevent the spread of the virus. Hu’s comments came before the discovery of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Instead, he was referring to a different, far deadlier disease: African Swine Fever (ASF) — an illness that affects pigs. Chinese officials first identified ASF in 2018 in Liaoning, a coastal province in China’s northeast. Unlike SARS-CoV-2, ASF does not threaten human health. The disease, however, is highly virulent in pigs and mortality rates approach 100%.

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