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Palace renews appeal for calm over bird flu

Malacañang yesterday renewed its appeal to the people to remain calm yet vigilant and discouraged them from spreading unverified information on bird flu cases in the country that may cause undue alarm and panic.

Presidential spokesperson Ernesto Abella said the government is closely monitoring Nueva Ecija following the reported avian flu outbreak that was confirmed by the Department of Agriculture.

Abella said that government officials have been quick in their response, particularly in avian flu investigation and containment activities.

“They have established heightened surveillance and community action teams for detection of other fowl deaths and possible flu cases in humans,” Abella said.

“They have likewise established advance command posts in San Nicolas, Pampanga and San Isidro, Nueva Ecija with capacity to respond 24/7,” he added.

Abella said health officials have trained and provided personal protective equipment and prophylaxis medicines good for 10 days for Armed Forces of the Philippines and Bureau of Fire Protection personnel culling affected fowls.

He noted that there has been no report of bird-to-human contamination in the Philippines and reiterated that bird flu is transferred via respiratory route. Properly cooked chicken meat and eggs also remain safe to eat, Abella reiterated.
Department of Health spokesperson Assistant Secretary Eric Tayag said that they are now on heightened vigilance following the bird flu outbreak in Nueva Ecija.

“Wala pa po kaming nare-report na nahawa. Patuloy po ang pagmomonitor namin niyan. It remains an animal health problem,” Tayag said.

Heightened vigilance means that DoH teams are ready to be deployed at any moment.

Meanwhile, Gov. Abet S. Garcia has suspended cockfighting in Bataan to contain the spread of bird flu in the province, Dr. Albert Venturina, provincial veterinarian, said.

Venturina said the suspension took effect last Friday and will last for two weeks or until September 1.

“The directive of the governor had been relayed to all municipalities in Bataan for its immediate dissemination of information,” Venturina said.

Venturina said that transportation of chicken, eggs, and ducks needs a permit from the provincial government to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

No bird flu cases have been reported in Bataan, which has several big poultry farms supplying Metro Manila and big supermarkets, food companies, and restaurants.

The DA expects to complete the depopulation of some 500,000 chicken, quails, and ducks in poultry farms affected by the bird flu outbreak in San Luis, Pampanga yesterday.

Citing reports from DA Regional Director Roy Abaya, Agriculture Secretary Manny Piñol said 214,506 chicken, ducks, and quails from 29 farms inside the seven-kilometer controlled radius in San Luis have been culled as of early yesterday morning.

Authorities expect the culling of remaining 300,000 fowls to be over by the end of yesterday.

Piñol said the completion of culling operations in San Luis will enable biosecurity teams to focus on the depopulation of birds affected by the bird flu outbreak in Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija. (Argyll Cyrus B. Geducos with a report from Mar T. Supnad and Ellalyn V. Ruiz)