In recent weeks we’ve seen Australian media put an enormous focus on the outbreak of Foot and Mouth Disease (FMD) in Indonesia.
Major update: From the 26th July 2022 it has been confirmed that Border Force have introduced disinfectant tubs at departure gates in Australia, for arrivals from Bali where all passengers are required to briefly wash and scrub their shoes as they disembark.
For many of you, hearing the words 'virus', 'contagious', 'border closures' isn’t new, but this time it isn't related to Covid-19 or a disease humans can even catch, but rather a virus that impacts animals and can spread through soil found on shoes, clothes or equipment that has been in contact with an infected animal while overseas.
To be clear - this strain is not to be confused with the common childhood illness Hand, Food & Mouth - FMD doesn’t affect humans but we can pass it on to cattle, sheep, goats, deer, and pigs (animals with cloven hooves).
Foot and Mouth Disease is also found in many countries, including Malaysia, Africa and South East Asia & China but has made major headlines in recent weeks as it has returned to Indonesia for the first time in 37 years, with a major presence found in the tourism mecca of Bali which is making Australian experts nervous.
How is Australia responding?
From July 2022 Australian travelers returning from Bali were instructed by Border Force via an announcement on board the flight of the risks as they arrived into Australia and to ensure they declare if they have visited rural Bali, farmland or been in contact with animals during their trip. For any travelers, breaching Australia’s biosecurity laws will mean you are subject to large fines, and if you are a visitor to Australia, your visa may be canceled.
From the 26th July 2022 it has been confirmed that Border Force have introduced disinfectant tubs at departure gates in Australia, for arrivals from Bali where all passengers are required to briefly wash and scrub their shoes as they disembark.
How is New Zealand Responding?
New Zealand doesn’t currently run any direct flights to Bali so the concern is less than Australia. Deputy Director General of Biosecurity - Stuart Anderson said they were confident with their current (and extremely stringent) biosecurity procedures. "We have a strong and multi-layered system that has some of the strongest settings in the world," he said.
Anderson said despite the low risk of FMD entering New Zealand, it was still important to closely watch how FMD develops and make further adjustments where required.
Similar to Australia, advice for travellers includes cleaning belongings, declaring contact with livestock and items that could carry diseases or pests, not bringing animal products home, and avoiding stock for a week after their last contact with animals overseas.
Will Borders to Bali Be Closed?
With some major news publications jumping at these comments, this option was swiftly ruled out by Australia's Agriculture Minister, Murray Watt.
"We have no plans to close the borders to Indonesia or any of the many other countries who have foot-and-mouth disease," Watt told SKY last week. "I've received no advice from biosecurity experts in Australia that that's the kind of thing that we should do."
Will this outbreak change my trip of effect my holiday in Bali?
Once you have arrived in the island paradise of Bali you will not notice anything different. The same barma weather is on hand, the same beautiful smiles from the Balinese people and bintangs available at your favorite bars and beach clubs.
Food & produce has been unchanged, and there are no shortages of meat or dairy products.
The major change to your trip will be on your return from Bali to Australia - or other Western countries and the documentation you are required to complete outlining where you went and if you were in contact with animals or visited rural parts of Bali.
As of 26th July there may be some slight delays in disembarking your flight as there are recent disinfectant tubs now mandatory to travellers departing from flights direct from Bali.