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S. Korea Quarantines Farms in Two Provinces on Bird Flu

South Korea banned the movement of people who work with poultry and products from two provinces after confirming an outbreak of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N8 at farms in the country’s south.

Authorities have restricted movement in North Jeolla province, South Jeolla province and Gwangju Metropolitan City, about 240 kilometers (150 miles) from Seoul, for 48 hours through midnight today, Lee Dong Phil, minister of the agriculture, food and rural affairs, told reporters yesterday.

The ministry confirmed the first outbreak in Gochang, North Jeolla province on Jan. 17, and at a duck farm in nearby Buan county yesterday, according to separate statements on the ministry’s website. South Korea has culled 90,000 birds at six farms within a 500-meter radius, the ministry said yesterday.

“It was inevitable to announce a stand-still in order to prevent further damage,” Lee said. “We ask all to comply thoroughly with the stand-still instructions.”

South Korea is the world’s third-biggest buyer of corn, used in food, livestock feed and biofuel. The country destroyed 6.5 million chickens and ducks in the previous outbreak spanning December 2010 through May 2011, according to government data.

Shares of Harim Holdings Co., which manufactures packaged chicken through its subsidiaries, fell 6.4 percent, the most since June, to close at 4,500 won on Jan. 17 in Seoul. The benchmark Kospi stock index declined 0.7 percent.

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