Romanian president blasts gov't over swine fever response

Romania's president on Wednesday has blasted the government over the spread of African swine fever saying the outbreak was costing millions of euros and threatening thousands of jobs.

African swine fever doesn't affect humans, but it can be deadly for domestic and wild boars, and cause massive losses for farmers.

President Klaus Iohannis said that "for weeks, authorities have demonstrated their incompetence in stopping this disaster.... without us seeing appropriate, firm and efficient methods of control."

About 780 separate outbreaks of swine fever have been reported, with Romania's southeast worst affected.

Geronimo Branescu, director of the government Veterinary Health and Food Safety Authority, later said more than 123,000 sick pigs had been slaughtered since the outbreak, while authorities have paid farmers damages worth 222,000 lei ($55,800). He said there were around 700 outstanding claims for compensation.

Iohannis, a critic of the left-wing government and whose post is largely ceremonial, said that "the government is incapable of managing African swine fever which has very serious consequences for the Romanian economy."