BEIJING (Reuters) – China has shown shortcomings in some aspects of preventing African swine fever, and the situation remains complicated and severe, the country’s cabinet said on Wednesday.

The management of transporting live hogs is not strict enough, while there is insufficient capacity in testing for African swine fever virus in hog slaughtering, processing, and circulating procedures, China’s State Council said in guidelines on prevention and control of the pig disease.

The comments from China’s top administrative authority highlight the severe challenges the country faces as the highly contagious and deadly outbreak ravages the world’s biggest pig herd.

Local governments and ministries should promote large-scale pig farming and reduce the number of small pig farms to improve biosecurity levels in the sector, the State Council said in the document published on its website.

The government will provide production subsidies to large-scale pig farms in areas heavily affected by the disease, and encourage major consumption areas to expand pig production to improve self-sufficiency in supplies, the cabinet said.

China has reported more than 120 outbreaks of the deadly disease throughout all its mainland provinces and regions, as well as on Hainan island and Hong Kong, since it was first detected in the country in early August last year.

As many as half of China’s breeding pigs have either died from African swine fever or been slaughtered because of the spread of the disease, twice as many as officially acknowledged, according to some estimates.

(Reporting by Hallie Gu and Tom Daly; Editing by Tom Hogue and David Evans)