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President: Bird flu outbreak contained

By GENALYN D. KABILING

SAN FERNANDO, Pampanga — Now that the bird flu outbreak has been contained, President Duterte has assured the nation that it is now safe to eat chicken and other poultry products from Pampanga and Nueva Ecija.

The President dispelled concerns about the impact of the avian flu incident on food safety and bird-to-human transmission of the virus by feasting on hard boiled eggs, balut and chicken barbecue during his visit in San Fernando, Pampanga.

Duterte was accompanied by Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol, Pampanga Rep. Gloria Arroyo, Pampanga Governor Lilia Pineda and other officials during the chicken boodle fight during the agriculture event in hope of persuading the public to consume poultry products again.

“I assure the public that the poultry products in Pampanga and Nueva Ecija are safe for consumption and that we, in government, are undertaking efforts to stamp out the outbreak and minimize its impact in the country,” the President said in his remarks.

“Wala namang human transmission eh. So I came here just to eat the chicken and the eggs and the baluts to assure the public na hindi ho delikado. Tapos na,” he added.

Duterte also pledged to help the poultry industry recover from the avian flu incident as well as intensify government efforts to prevent a repeat of the disease outbreak in the country.

“We ask the full cooperation and assistance, not only of the poultry industry, but also of the general public to make sure that disease outbreaks such as this are reported to authorities at the onset of its occurrence,” he added.

He said the government’s goal is to put the poultry industry “back into the path of high growth and progress so that it can continue to contribute to our nation’s food security and to our economic growth.”

Duterte traveled to Pampanga a few weeks after an outbreak of bird flu hit the province that affecting the chicken supply and price in the area.

A total of 421,132 birds have been culled in affected farms in San Luis, Pampanga to curb the spread of the bird flu.

Another 70,576 were depopulated in San Isidro, Nueva Ecija and 100,421 in Jaen, Nueva Ecija to contain the outbreak.

In his remarks, the President has commended the Department of Agriculture (DA) for its swift action in “squarely confronting and containing the avian flu outbreak” in the country.

He was also grateful for the solidarity and cooperation of the local officials and people of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija in stamping out the avian flu in their areas.

“I also appreciate the more than 300 soldiers and police officers for their help and valuable assistance. Your timely and rapid response on this outbreak is truly praiseworthy,” he said.

Duterte also offered his apology for the culling of thousands of birds that affected the livelihood of poultry farmers. He promised that he would try to increase financial assistance to them.

“We are very sorry to disturb your livelihood – the events here because we had to do it. It’s the duty of the government to safeguard really, the spread of the avian flu,” he said.

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