South Korea will soon remove most of the restrictions on farms affected by avian influenza since the first outbreak was confirmed earlier in the year, the government said Wednesday.
The de facto declaration of the end of the bird flu comes as the last confirmed case was reported on July 25, according to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
"The lockdown on all farms affected by avian influenza between Jan. 16 and July 25 will be removed as of Sept. 4," the ministry said in a press release.
Since the first confirmed case was reported at a duck farm in Gochang, about 300 kilometers southwest of Seoul, the country has slaughtered some 14 million animals, with the overall damage likely to reach billions of dollars.
The ministry, however, said it will maintain most of its quarantine measures.
"The government plans to strengthen its preventive inspection of poultry farms within the affected areas while also increasing the number of clinical examinations," it said.
The ministry earlier said it will begin year-round monitoring against avian influenza and designate special districts, mostly wintering homes for migratory birds, that will be subject to regular inspection and quarantine.
The move followed the outcome of a government investigation that pointed to migratory birds from China as the most likely source of the animal disease.
The ministry said it was also removing lockdown restrictions on farms affected by the latest outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD).
Only three confirmed cases of FMD have been reported in the latest outbreak, with the last case reported on Aug. 6, it said.
FMD is a viral disease that affects cloven-hoofed animals, such as pigs, cows and sheep. About 2,000 pigs have been culled since the first confirmed case was reported on July 23. (Yonhap)