Coronavirus concern has Indonesia restricting imports of live fish from China

Published on
February 7, 2020

The Indonesian Ministry of Maritime Affairs and Fisheries is restricting imports of live fish products from China as part of the country’s efforts to minimize the transmission of the deadly coronavirus, Tempo.co reported on 4 February.

Indonesia reportedly had no confirmed case of the virus as of 6 February.

“We are temporarily limiting the import [of live fish from China]. There is no problem so far but for the past one month, it is not easy to close imports from China,” Indonesian Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo said, adding that Indonesia will tighten the monitoring of frozen fish imports from China as well to mitigate any potential risk of virus transmission.

The ministry made the decision in consultation with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

“We are asked to temporarily stop the import. We do not want to take the worst risk too,” he said.

The Fish Quarantine and Quality Control agency under the ministry has been instructed to issue a circular on the matter to all units in the exit or entry point of the import, either in airports, ports, or the country's cross-border posts.

Prabowo said he hopes Chinese government understands that the restrictions are merely Indonesia’s emergency responses to the spread of the coronavirus.

Indonesia is set to temporarily stop importing all live animals from China to prevent the spread of the coronavirus to Southeast Asia's largest economy, The Strait Times reported 4 February, citing Coordinating Minister for Economic Affairs Airlangga Hartarto.

The proposed ban has drawn concern from China, with the Chinese ambassador to Indonesia saying there is no evidence that the coronavirus could spread from imported items and warning such a move would cause a negative impact, according to The Jakarta Post.

The rapid outbreak of the coronavirus, with an origin reportedly tracked to a seafood market in Wuhan, China, has killed 636 people in mainland China, with dozens more cases confirmed in other countries, including in the United States, Japan, Thailand, and Germany, South China Morning Post reported on 7 February.

The city of Wuhan is a major logistics hub for China’s seafood trade in the central region of the country, and the virus hit the market at its busiest time of the year. The city is also central to the trade in freshwater species like crabs given its location in Hubei Province, at the heart of China’s freshwater crustacean industry.      

Photo courtesy of Tatiana Dyuvbanova/Shutterstock 

Reporting from Hanoi, Vietnam

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