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Philippines to tighten measures against African swine fever

Christian Fernsby |
Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte has ordered to create an inter agency task force that will coordinate government measures to prevent the entry of animal-borne diseases regarding the spread of African swine fever (ASF) in the country.

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In an executive order signed on Feb. 21 and made public on Thursday, Duterte designated the country's Agriculture Secretary William Dar as the chair of the national task force on animal-borne diseases.

The order aims to hasten the flow of pigs, pork and pork products, Dar said on Wednesday.

The inter-agency task force will ensure effective coordination among government agencies, and undertake activities to prevent the entry and control the spread of animal-borne diseases.

According to the executive order, the ASF outbreak poses "catastrophic effects" on the Philippines' swine industry.

To effectively address the outbreak and prevent similar incidents, the order stressed the need to create an inter-agency task force which will "formulate, oversee and implement effective and coordinated policies and strategies to manage, contain and control the spread of (ASF)."

The Philippines continues to grapple with ASF since the outbreak of the disease in September last year.

Nearly 200,000 pigs have been culled in backyard farms in Metro Manila and other provinces in the main Luzon Island. Early this month, local officials reported an ASF outbreak in Davao Occidental province in the southern Philippines.

The Philippine Department of Agriculture has confirmed that some backyard and commercial farms in several areas in the country have been affected by the ASF virus.

To prevent the spread of the disease, the Philippines is implementing the so-called 1-7-10 protocol, meaning that all pigs within a 1-km radius of infected farms will be culled while the movement of pigs and its products will be limited and under strict surveillance and testing within a 7-km radius.

The protocol also imposes that swine farms within a 10-km radius will be required to submit a mandatory report on the disease.

ASF is harmless to humans but highly contagious and fatal for pigs as there is no known cure, with a fatality rate of up to 100 percent.

Hogs remain the main source of meat in the Philippines, and about 64 percent of the swine population is raised in backyard farms.

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