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Gov't to beef up quarantine efforts for FMD ahead of holiday: official

The government will make "all-out" efforts to stem foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) amid concerns that the highly contagious animal illness could spread fast during the upcoming Lunar New Year holiday, the top economic policymaker said Wednesday.

"We expect that a lot of people will travel during the holiday, with many also planning for overseas trips," Finance Minister Yoon Jeung-hyun told a meeting with other economic policymakers. "The government needs to make all-out efforts to prevent the spread of FMD by stepping up quarantine efforts on national and provincial borders."

FMD is highly contagious and affects all cloven-hoofed animals such as cattle, pigs, deer, goats and buffalo. Since the first outbreak was confirmed on Nov. 29 in a southeastern town, the animal disease has spread almost throughout the entire country, forcing officials to cull more than 2.5 million livestock.

The Lunar New Year holiday, which falls on Feb. 2-4 this year, is the nation's biggest holiday when millions of people travel to visit their hometowns to see relatives and pay respects to their ancestors.

Expressing concerns that the disease could spread fast during the holiday, Yoon called for each government agency to work together in preventing things from worsening.

Mentioning economic situations, he also voiced worries over growing inflationary pressure, saying that the government needs to step up its efforts to stabilize the livelihoods of low and mid-income people.

"The government has been making its utmost efforts to stabilize prices and stem the spread of FMD, but prices that people feel still remain high and the disease is showing no signs of abating," the minister said. "We should not let our guard down in efforts to tackle risk factors that could hamper the nation's economic recovery."

(Yonhap News)