Broadened state-of-emergency to stretch until new year

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Saeima approved the government’s extension of the state-of-emergency zones prompted by the African swine fever (ASF) crisis at its regular Thursday plenary session.

In light of continuing confirmations of ASF infections among wild boar and domestic pigs, the Cabinet ruled Tuesday that the emergency monitoring and quarantine territories should be extended to include a buffer of heretofore unaffected districts where the stringent preventive measures must be put into effect.

With the parliament’s approval today, the seventeen territories added to the currently declared zones have now brought the crisis-bound jurisdiction all the way to Riga’s suburban backyard communities and Vidzeme province’s gulf coast.

As reported, on June 26 three wild boar carcasses found just meters from the Belarus border in far southeast Latgale were confirmed to be infected with ASF. Less than two months later, by August 13 the state-of-emergency zone was extended into Latvia’s heartland after the outbreak had spread to the woods and domestic farms all the way in northeast Vidzeme province’s borderlands with Estonia.

The Food and Veterinary Service (PVD) is the responsible state agency in charge of the inspection, disinfection and culling regime put into place to stem the ASF outbreak and prevent its further spread.

Meanwhile, professional hunters’ community spokesman Jānis Baumanis told business portal Thursday that the PVD was being “very inconsistent” in its coordination of efforts across the affected regions.

The Latvian Hunters’ Association chairman blasted the PVD for its “medieval” methods.

“At the peak of the outbreak there were no refrigerated containers to keep the boar carcasses from rotting out in the heat. PVD inspectors showed up in passenger vehicles inappropriate for transporting half-decomposed animals, then they went off to borrow them from the Forest Service, dealing with each local government separately to find a place to burn them, but the incinerator facility only appeared too little and too late. In other words, things have been going crazy and the PVD people were forced to resort to ‘medieval’ methods – pyres piled high with half-rotted wild boar corpses,” he described.

Baumanis warned that if new outbreaks appear outside the currently declared state-of-emergency zone, the affected local governments will be facing the same host of problems already encountered in Latgale and Vidzeme.

He also criticized the PVD for issuing contradictory instructions that only served to confuse the hunting community, as well as the “absurd” compensation mechanisms which kick in both upon submission of the carcass, as well as upon its incineration.

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