Arrivals from Italy are also barred from bringing in undeclared Italian pork products, with those caught facing hefty fines.

The announcement comes after Italy banned all flights to and from Taiwan, China, Hong Kong and Macau from February 2 in an attempt to prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Taiwan was not happy with the ban and has lobbied to have it lifted but so far with no success.

Italian Foreign Minister Luigi Di Maio said earlier this month that the block on flights was an emergency measure.

“We will keep it in place as long as health authorities and ... the scientific community tell us we should.”

Taiwan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs said on Thursday that the government’s ban on pork imports from Italy was not related to Rome’s decision to suspend flights.

“The decision to ban Italian pork was based on scientific data and was not related to that country’s suspension of direct flights to and from Taiwan,” ministry spokeswoman Joanne Ou said during a press conference.

The website of Taiwan’s state-owned Central News Agency cited the government as saying: “After conducting a rolling assessment of the international outbreak of African swine fever, the bureau has concluded that the epidemic on the Italian island of Sardinia is escalating.”

While Italy had not been on the World Organization for Animal Health’s (OIE) list of countries and territories with new or ongoing ASF outbreaks over the past two months, OIE statistics showed Sardinia reported 45 cases of ASF in 2017, 90 cases in 2018 and 27 cases in the first half of 2019.

“This indicates a growing risk of the disease spreading to mainland Italy,” Taiwan’s government said, but it did not explain why it was only now issuing the ban.