The Council of Agriculture (COA) stated that Minister Lin Tsung-hsien, who is also the operations commander, presided over the fifth meeting of the Central Emergency Operation Center Avian Influenza on May 5, which was convened by Premier Lin Chuan. After the briefing, Premier Lin stated that he believed that the CEOC AI had successfully completed the mission of bringing the avian flu virus subtype H5N6 under control; thus, the decommission of the CEOC AI became effective immediately. Lin also praised the COA, relevant government branches, city and county governments, academic institutions, and associations for their effort and swift actions in disease prevention which attributed to the effective containment of the epidemic. In addition, the Premier made a special commendation to Chang Chih-wei of the Wild Bird Society of Taipei, whose prudence and attentiveness while monitoring migratory birds helped him discover at an early stage the very first confirmed case of dead ducklings carrying the H5N6 virus. Thanks to Chang’s findings, disease control and prevention authorities could respond immediately to successfully stem the epidemic. The Premier commended Chang’s efforts and awarded him personally.
The COA further explained that after the epidemic involving H5N6 ravaged Korea in November 2016, the Council promptly informed local animal disease control centers and industry associations to in turn request poultry farmers to strengthen their disease prevention measures. It then held a joint conference in December with the Ministry of Health and Welfare to review all prevention measures. On February 5, 2017, the migratory bird avian influenza monitoring system detected the first case of highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N6 subtype identical to that in Korea and Japan on a dead duckling in Yuli Township, Hualien County. A large-scale control and monitoring mechanism was launched immediately followed by the establishment of the Animal Disease Emergency Response Team and the CEOC AI. Inter-ministerial cooperation protocol was activated in order to coordinate central, local governments, 4 regional poultry health centers, and private veterinarians to stop the spreading of the H5N6 virus. Through several measures such as raising subsidy level for informing on culling, banning the transportation and slaughtering of poultry, and compulsory pre-market lab test reporting for ducks, among others, the H5N6 situation could be controlled and limited to only a relatively low number of 12 infected poultry farms being and 41,000 culled poultries. Compared with nearly 900 poultry farms infected and over 30 million poultries culled in Korea, Taiwan’s achievement is quite remarkable.
The COA pointed out that even though the CEOC AI has been decommissioned, every day disease control and monitoring measures of AI would remain operational. The COA would work also closely with local governments and industry associations to improve biosecurity on poultry farms. The Council vows to upgrade the biosecurity facilities for production and distribution environment in order to minisize the risk of an avian influenza outbreak.