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To ban or not to ban pork: Garcia to decide today

To ban or not to ban pork: Garcia to decide today

CEBU, Philippines — Governor Gwendolyn Garcia will decide today if the Province of Cebu will enforce a total ban on the importation of raw and processed pork.

In a meeting held yesterday, the Provincial Committee on African Swine Fever (ASF) discussed the preventive measures to be taken in order to block the infection of hogs in the province.

As defined in the primer by the Philippine College of Swine Practitioners, ASF is a contagious tick borne viral disease which exclusively infects pigs and wild boars by causing high fevers and high hemorrhages. The virus is resilient since it thrives even outside the host animal posing a 100 percent mortality rate two to 10 days upon infection.

Recently, there has been suspicion that the virus has reached the country after the spike in mortality rates in some barangays in Luzon.

The normal mortality rate for pigs is two to three percent.  However, some affected areas in Luzon had mortality rate of 20 percent, which has sounded alarm to the Department of Agriculture (DA).

The DA, however, stressed that they will still be running some tests in Singapore to confirm whether or not the deaths were really caused by ASF.

Being a mere island away from Luzon, the Province of Cebu convened the existing Committee on ASF to review the data and assess the hog-raising in the province.

The Provincial Government has also issued Executive Order (EO) No. 13 that enjoins the members of the ASF committee to involve themselves in the preventive measures through the creation of the ASF Task Force.

The task force includes four teams: the surveillance and monitoring team; quarantine team; information, education and campaign team, and the disease updates and policy review group.

Among the preventive measures to be undertaken by the province as stipulated in Item 1, Section 6 of the executive order is the “temporary ban of import meat products from countries infected with African Swine Fever.”

The 20 infected countries included in the ban are China, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, North Korea, Laos, Russia, Ukraine, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Hungary, Bulgaria, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Germany and Romania.

Garcia’s EO was framed after the EO also recently promulgated by Bohol Governor Arthur Yap.

Garcia said that Yap alerted her of the possible ASF breach in the nation.

In the Bohol EO, however, the ban is not only limited to the 20 infected countries. It extends to any sources of pork from outside Bohol, including cities in the country.

“I will weigh my options very, very carefully today. Tomorrow I will decide,” Garcia said on proposed ban on pork imports in Cebu.

Cebu is a net importer of pork. It consumes 63 million kilos of pork per year, 15 percent more than what it produces each year.

It augments the 15 percent of demand from neighboring islands of Mindanao, Bohol and Negros, as well as from suppliers outside the country.

The suspension will last for 100 days, while waiting for the test results of the deceased hogs to be released. The results are expected to arrive in two weeks to three months.

Among the preventive measures taken under the EO is “the confiscation of all incoming live swine, pork meat and processed products without proper transport permit from all origin.” — GAN (FREEMAN)


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