Over 21,000 evacuated after torrential rain in Guangxi, China

Robie de Guzman   •   July 19, 2019   •   1326

Rescuers evacuate residents @Daxu Town, Lingchuan County, Guilin City, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, south China | Courtesy: Reuters

Over 21,000 people have been evacuated Wednesday following continuous torrential rain in south China’s Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, according to the provincial emergency management department.

In the region, a total of 47 counties and districts in nine cities, including Nanning, Liuzhou, Guilin, and Baise, suffered floods which affected 65,000 hectares of crops and destroyed 1,250 houses.

The local government activated contingency plans for rescue and relief work.

Both rescue and relief efforts are still currently underway. (REUTERS)

PH halts ‘visa upon arrival’ for Chinese nationals amid threats of novel coronavirus

Marje Pelayo   •   January 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Chinese nationals cannot enter the Philippines as easily as before following the issuance of a new immigration order which temporarily suspends ‘visa upon arrival’ (VUA) facility in all gateways across the country.

On Tuesday (January 28), Bureau of Immigration (BI) Commissioner Jaime Morente announced that the order takes effect immediately in a move to curb the spread of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) that afflicted thousands in China and penetrated several other countries.

In an effort to contain the virus, China has shut down public transportation to and from virus-stricken cities.

The Philippines, likewise, suspended all flights from Kalibo International Airport to Wuhan City.

“The Civil Aeronautics Board has already suspended direct flights from Wuhan province,” said Morente.

“We are now temporarily suspending the issuance of VUA for Chinese nationals to slow down the influx of group tours,” he added.

Morente explained that the VUA is often used by Chinese nationals in tour groups visiting the country.

The official clarified, however, that there is no order banning Chinese nationals from entering the Philippines.

“We have not received any directive imposing policy changes on Chinese nationals,” he said.

“But we are taking this proactive measure to slow down travel, and possibly help prevent the entry of the 2019-nCov,” he added.

Morente stressed the importance of monitoring all arriving passengers especially those coming from ground zero or Wuhan City in China as the new strain of coronavirus has no proven cure up to this date.

“It is the Bureau of Quarantine who conducts monitoring of arriving passengers to see if they are manifesting symptoms of the corona virus. They have put up measures in place to strictly check arriving passengers,” he stressed.

“They have been very active in giving information to frontline port personnel on how to prevent the transmission of the virus, given the risk of direct contact with possible carriers,” Morente added.

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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