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China to investigate local authorities' efforts to control African swine fever

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BEIJING (Reuters) – China’s agriculture ministry said on Monday it will carry out checks on local veterinary authorities in 10 provinces as it tries to slow the ongoing spread of the deadly African swine fever virus.

The investigations come after China’s cabinet said earlier this month there were deficiencies in the country’s efforts to control and prevent the disease, which has reached every province of the country and is still spreading, almost a year after the first outbreak.

China is the world’s largest pork consumer and its massive hog herds have been decimated by the disease.

The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said in a statement online that it will evaluate the veterinary agencies from two sample counties in the following provinces and regions: Hebei, Heilongjiang, Jiangsu, Henan, Anhui, Guangxi, Fujian, Sichuan, Yunnan and Shaanxi.

One county must be a place where there has recently been an outbreak of disease, and it should be compared with another county in the province where the disease is not present, it said.

The evaluations will be completed by Oct. 31 and a report on the findings will be submitted to the ministry by Dec. 31.

The ministry said earlier on Monday that the country’s hog herd had shrunk 25.8% in June from a year ago, with the number of sows down 26.7%.

(Reporting by Dominique Patton; editing by Christian Schmollinger)

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