SEOUL (Reuters) - South Korea is very concerned about a bird flu outbreak that has seen the biggest-ever cull of chickens and other poultry, its second vice finance minister said on Monday.
"The number of culled birds is rising very quickly," Song Eon-seok told reporters in an unscheduled briefing at the government headquarters in Sejong, south of Seoul.
"It's grown in a short amount of time and we are very worried."
Song said the government has enough funds to aid farmers and those in the industry who face financial hardship in the wake of this outbreak, which has seen the culling of more than 16 million birds, almost one-fifth of South Korea's poultry population.
The lack of manpower to help in the culling and sanitizing has emerged as the most urgent issue, he said, despite the deployment of soldiers stationed in nearby areas and public workers to help.
Song also said South Korea's debt-to-gross domestic product ratio is expected to be managed to stay below 40 percent in 2017. This year, the finance ministry sees the ratio standing at 38.7 percent or 38.8 percent.
Reporting by Christine Kim; Editing by Richard Borsuk