34 of 400 samples of pork products tested positive of African Swine Fever – BAI

Marje Pelayo   •   July 19, 2019   •   6136

Boxes of pork items from Poland intercepted in Cebu on June 27 | Courtesy: BAI

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs (BOC) has intercepted a number of pork products from Hong Kong and China at Ninoy Aquino International Airport (NAIA) in between June 19 to 28.

The items didn’t have sanitary and phytosanitary clearances from the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) and could have been infested by the deadly pig virus African Swine Fever (ASF).

China is one of the 19 countries from where entry of pork and pork-based products are banned.

From a total of 400 samples that BAI examined, 34 tested positive of ASF and these products could have caused infestation in the country’s hog industry if they were not intercepted.

Germany was the latest addition to the list of countries where entry of pork products to the Philippines was banned.

Though there were no reports yet of ASF-infestation in Germany, the Philippines included it in the list after a German company exported pork products to the Philippines along with some 250 kilograms of pork from ASF-hit Poland.

The said shipment was intercepted in Cebu on June 27 which included 27 boxes of pork items from Poland.

That incident, according to Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol, was a clear violation of the country’s Quarantine Law thus resulting in the ban of pork products from Germany.

“Nakikiusap ako.(‘Im appealing to you) Please understand, these are extraordinary times. We cannot take the risk,” Secretary Piñol said.

“Kasi tingnan mo, Germany napaka-respectable na bansa nyan. It’s export country known for its high standards, nasingitan tayo, (You see Germany is a highly respected country. It’s exports are known for its high standards but some banned (pork) slip past their screening,)” he explained.

Piñol stressed that ASF infestation would compromise the country’s P260-B worth of hog industry.

Some of the Philippines’ neighboring countries have already declared an outbreak of ASF such as Vietnam and Cambodia.

In May, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has asked store owners to self-recall pork products from China that covers those manufactured since the start of the import ban.

Still, Piñol assures the Philippines’ hog industry remains ASF free. – with reports from Rey Pelayo

China bans wildlife trade amid novel Coronavirus outbreak

Marje Pelayo   •   January 28, 2020

China on Saturday (January 26) has imposed a nationwide ban on the trade of wildlife until the outbreak of novel coronavirus is eliminated across the country.

This new restriction includes transport and trading of any form of wildlife, specifically in markets, supermarkets, restaurants, and e-commerce platforms.

Experts blame the country’s eating habits as the possible cause of the current epidemic.

China is known for its bizarre custom of eating wild and exotic animals ranging from peacocks, snakes, civet cats, wolves, rats, and bats which health experts consider as ‘incubators’ for viruses that may evolve or mutate and spread to humans often in unhygienic conditions.

These wild animals are also made available on online shops in China.

As of Monday (January 27), China’s National Health Commission (NHC) reported a total of 1975 confirmed cases of novel coronavirus with a death toll of 80.

So far, the outbreaks’ epicenter, Wuhan City, remains on lockdown along with 19 other cities across Central China.

Health authorities in Beijing, through a text message sent to mobile phone users in Wuhan City, urged people not to shake hands as the common Chinese greeting.

Instead, the public is advised to salute using a traditional cupped-hand gesture.

PH Customs to bury seized ASF-tainted products

Robie de Guzman   •   January 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – The Bureau of Customs at the Manila International Container Port (BOC-MICP) on Monday said it is set to bury seized meat products that tested positive for the African Swine Fever (ASF) virus.

In a statement, the BOC said the meat products that were confiscated from a container van include boxes of dumplings, pork-chicken balls and roast chicken wings.

The container was consigned to Dynamic M Int’l Trading Inc. which arrived at the Manila North Harbor last December 11, 2019 from China and was put under an alert order for suspicion of containing misdeclared items.

The bureau said the abovementioned food items, particularly the pork-celery dumplings, indicated the presence of the ASF virus after they were subjected to examination and laboratory tests by the Veterinary Quarantine Services.

The agency noted that the seized items were not covered by any Sanitary permit from the Bureau of Animal Industry.

Agricultural items not covered by such permits may carry plant diseases and pests that can affect local agriculture.

The confiscated shipment violated the Customs Modernization and Tariff Act, the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, and the Anti-Agricultural Smuggling Act of 2016, the BOC said.

An inter-agency team was ordered to immediately dispose of the shipment in order to prevent the spread of the ASF virus, it added.

The BOC, however, did not provide details on when and where it plans to dispose of the ASF-tainted meat products.

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DOH: 11 patients under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus

Aileen Cerrudo   •   January 27, 2020

The Department of Health (DOH) has confirmed that 11 patients are under investigation for suspected novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the Philippines.

Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said the 11 patients under investigation have a history of travel to Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the virus.

Based on the DOH, two of the 11 patients are in Metro Manila, one in MIMAROPA, three in Western Visayas, one in Eastern Visayas, three in Central Visayas and one in Northern Mindanao.

Duque said all the patients under investigation are being closely monitored. He also reiterated that there are still zero confirmed nCoV cases in the Philippines.

“There shouldn’t be any cause for alarm. Just because we flashed the areas where the PUIs come from, it doesn’t mean those areas are infected with the novel coronavirus, because there’s none. We keep harping the fact that there is none—still zero as of today,” he said.

DOH Epidemiology Bureau officer-in-charge Chito Avelino said the five-year-old patient in Cebu has already been discharged, while the others are already in the process of being released.

The DOH also reminds the public to practice good hygiene to prevent the risk of infection from any virus.—AAC (with reports from Rosalie Coz)

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