University chief veterinarian informed govt of ASF last year
The chairman of the Thailand Veterinary Dean Consortium had informed the government last month about the discovery of African Swine Flu (ASF) in the kingdom, contrary to claims by the Livestock Development Department.
Assoc Prof Dr Kongsak Thiangtham, chairman of the consortium, said it had alerted the department in December of the existence of the virus.
Kongsak said the virus was detected in pork samples in a service office on Kasetsart University’s Kamphaeng Saen campus.
On Monday, Livestock Development Department director-general Sorawit Thanito claimed he had not seen any letter of alert from the consortium on the ASF virus.
However, a day later, on Tuesday, Sorawit told the media that the virus was detected in a sample collected from a slaughterhouse in Nakhon Pathom. He claimed the virus was just detected so his department had informed the World Organisation for Animal Health.
The ASF issue has turned political after public outcry over a drastic increase in pork prices. Some small-time pig farmers claimed that many of their pigs have died of ASF, affecting pork supplies and thus resulting in higher prices.
On Tuesday, the opposition Pheu Thai made public what it called was strong evidence of a cover-up of ASF in the country.
The Pheu Thai noted that the government made ASF a national agenda in April 2019 but it failed to take proper action to prevent the virus from spreading. Instead, the Pheu Thai alleged, the government attempted to cover up the finding of the virus.
Wisut Chainarun, chairman of Pheu Thai MPs, showed the media a copy of a letter from the Agriculture and Cooperatives Ministry to the Cabinet Secretariat, which he said proved that the government knew that ASF was spreading since 2019.
He alleged that the government was alerted to suspicious deaths involving pigs in 2019 and the government had been paying compensation to farmers for culling their pigs since 2020.