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Published: 13 august 2013 21:51

Lithuania needs to change emergency law to fight African swine fever

Kęstučio Vanago/BFL nuotr. / Kiaulės
Lithuania needs to amend its emergency law to successfully combat African swine fever, outbreaks of which have been reported in neighboring Belarus, government and veterinary officials say, noting that the existing legislation does not provide for declaring a state of emergency when the contagion is close to the country's border but has not yet spread across it.

„I think this (amending the law) is a logical proposal and a necessary one. I think that the Cabinet will decide at its meeting next Wednesday to submit such a proposal to the Seimas,“ Defense Minister Juozas Olekas, who substitutes for the vacationing prime minister, told BNS on Wednesday after a visit to the Medininkai border checkpoint.

„When the disease crosses the Lithuanian border, then it will be too late to declare a state of emergency,“ he added.

Jonas Milius, the head of the Lithuanian State Food and Veterinary Service, told BNS after the visit to Medininkai that the existing legislation does not provide for declaring a state of emergency when an affected area is several kilometers from the Lithuanian border.

„We are meeting at the government's building next week to decide what measures to propose to the government regarding fees and changes to the emergency law to make it possible to declare (a state of emergency) when there is a high threat (of a disease spreading into the country). For example, if an affected area is two kilometers from the border, under the existing legislation, we cannot declare a state of emergency, which is ridiculous because when the disease is here, other measures will be needed,“ he said.

Declaring a state of emergency would allow taking stricter measures to control the spreading of the disease, the official said.

„For example, we could sign an order to kill wild boars within 10 kilometers from the border,“ he said.

Olekas said that Belarus was keeping Lithuania quite well informed about African swine fever.

„We have been warned and have no outbreaks on our side. I have to say that we have been provided with information. It is difficult for me to say now if it could have been provided earlier, but today we are satisfied with that information. We are grateful to our neighbors for their cooperation,“ he said.

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