Passengers arriving at Perth Airport from Indonesia will now have to walk across sanitising mats filled with citric acid.
- The sanitising mats were rolled out at Perth Airport on Monday
- One traveller described the process as taking “five seconds’
- Travellers are urged to take personal responsibility for what they bring back
It comes as authorities try to prevent an outbreak of foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in that country spreading to Australia.
The mats, which are being used around the country, were rolled out for the first time in Perth on Monday for a flight returning from the popular holiday island of Bali.
Returning holiday-maker Daniel del Borrello described the process as quick and easy.
“All you’ve got to do is walk through black mats and let it clean your shoes. It’s pretty nice actually, free shoe cleaning,” he said.
“It takes like five seconds.”
Even passengers in thongs did not seem to mind the procedure.
Cleaning mats a practical reminder
The Principal of Murdoch University’s school of veterinary science, Dr Henry Annandale, said the mats were also a good reminder to people to clean their footwear if they have been overseas.
“It’s important that you try and clean the shoes before you walk on the mat and that when you walk on the mat you sort of stand on it a little bit and then walk off,” he told ABC Radio Perth.
“Nothing is 100 per cent effective at decontaminating in a short period of time.
“We need people to also take responsibility for getting the muck off your shoes.”
Dr Annandale said traces of active virus could be found on footwear seven to 11 weeks later and survived longer in colder temperatures.
But he said the main concern was from people bringing in contaminated animal products and foodstuffs.
‘Always been out there’
Premier Mark McGowan welcomed the installation of the mats.
Mr McGowan said the threat of FMD should not be overstated, but he urged travellers to take responsibility.
“I don’t think it’s well known, but foot-and-mouth disease is endemic in Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand and dozens of other countries around the world where Australians go as tourists,” he said.
“But the main thing is people, what we need is Australians returning home to take precautions, we need people to do the right thing — don’t bring in animal products, your footwear and clothing that might be in your bags, make sure it’s clean.”
Agriculture Minister ‘made a mistake’
Mr McGowan said Agriculture Minister Alannah MacTiernan “went a bit far” last week when she mentioned that an FMD outbreak in WA could see the price of local produce fall.
“Alannah MacTiernan is very passionate about agriculture and a very hard-working minister. She puts a huge amount of effort into her portfolio and is a workaholic,” Mark McGowan said.
“She has a whole raft of achievements to her name and is very committed to farming communities, regional communities and the agriculture sector more generally.
“She apologised for her words, she knows she went a bit far and made a mistake in what she said; I think that’s the end of the matter.”
Ms MacTiernan said a newspaper article took her comments out of context and that FMD was being taken seriously.