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DA orders vehicles disinfected, bans fowl shipments

About 100 quarantine officers who have established checkpoints along roads leading to this town, all backed by policemen, will carry out the task, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said yesterday. File

SAN LUIS, Pampanga , Philippines  – The Department of Agriculture (DA) has ordered the spraying of disinfectant on all vehicles entering or leaving the one-kilometer-radius quarantine area in this town to curb the spread of avian flu.

About 100 quarantine officers who have established checkpoints along roads leading to this town, all backed by policemen, will carry out the task, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said yesterday.

On his Facebook account, Piñol said after all the birds from this town have been culled, quarantine officers will also disinfect all the six farms where the outbreak occurred.

“After 21 days, sentinel birds will be deployed in the affected farms to serve as the basis in determining whether the virus is still present in the area,” he said.

Piñol added that “if the sentinel birds will not show signs of the disease, the quarantine restrictions will be lifted after 90 days.”

He noted “the dreaded avian influenza, type A sub-type H5, is now confirmed to be the cause of the deaths of about 37,000 fowl, mostly layer chicken, in San Luis.”

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“The AI that hit the country for the first time has been reported to be the strain that is not transmitted from chicken to humans,” he stressed.

Piñol also noted that “although samples for confirmatory tests were sent to Australia, none of the farm workers and residents” of this town and nearby areas where the outbreak was recorded since April of this year showed any signs of illness.

But he said he declared another seven-kilometer radius as a controlled zone where no fowl, eggs or other products could be brought out as another precautionary measure.

Piñol said governors and mayors of provinces surrounding this town have likewise been asked to establish quarantine stations to regulate the entry of poultry and poultry products into their areas.

Piñol had also ordered the ban of the shipment of fowls from Luzon to other parts of the country.

He said, however, the transhipment airports of “chicks, hatching eggs and other fowl from other countries coming into Luzon or other parts of the country will be allowed with the advisory that stringent quarantine protocols must be observed.”

“This means that chicken brought in from the United States intended for shipment to the Visayas or Mindanao may not be taken out of the boxes and must be loaded directly into the connecting flights,” Piñol clarified.

Senior Superintendent Joel Consulta, Pampanga police acting provincial director, said he has directed Chief Inspector Charlmar Gundaya, chief of police of this town to strictly enforce the ban.

Since the checkpoints established at dawn Saturday, police have flagged down 10 persons carrying fowl on the way out, Consulta said.

Livelihood assistance

For its part, the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) is now looking into the possibility of providing emergency employment for poultry workers to be affected by the bird flu outbreak in the province.

Labor Undersecretary Joel Maglunsod said DOLE will be sending a team to poultry farms to assess the situation.

Maglunsod noted DOLE is already getting feedback from their regional office in Central Luzon.

“We have to assess the situation so appropriate assistance like emergency employment or livelihood can be extended to affected workers,” Maglunsod said. –With Ric Sapnu, Mayen Jaymalin

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