Yap orders strict monitoring of all ports vs entry of hogs/pork from Mexico, U.S.

April 27, 2009 11:20 pm 

By Lilybeth G. Ison

MANILA, April 26 — Before leaving on a three-day agri-business trip to Brunei Darussalam, Agriculture Secretary Arthur Yap has ordered strict monitoring of all ports in the country to prevent the entry of hogs/pork from Mexico and the United States following a report from the World Health Organization (WHO) of a new "multi-strain swine flu" that hit both countries.

"While available information does not link swine farms to the current human cases of Swine Influenza (SI) in Mexico and the U.S., just the same, as a precautionary measure, I have ordered the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) to strengthen the monitoring of all the ports of entry to prevent the entry of any hogs/pork from Mexico and the U.S," said Yap in a statement.

He also ordered the BAI "to lift the restriction in the use of SI vaccine and encourage farmers to regularly vaccinate their pigs (herd) against SI as the vaccine will be readily available."

Yap said augmentation of existing quarantine checkpoints to prevent movement of sick pigs are already in place "although as of today, there’s no ongoing outbreak of swine flu in the Philippines."

The WHO earlier reported that a new flu feared to have killed up to 81 people in Mexico has "pandemic potential."

The Geneva-based UN agency branded the outbreak "a public health emergency of international concern," following a meeting of its emergency committee.

In a statement, the WHO is recommending to all nations to "intensify surveillance for unusual outbreaks of influenza-like illness and severe pneumonia."

Mexican Health Minister Jose Angel Cordova late Saturday raised the probable death toll from the new multi-strain swine flu in Mexico to 81, including 20 already confirmed.

Mexican President Felipe Calderon has given his government extraordinary powers to tackle the deadly outbreak, as at least two new cases were reported in the United States, bringing the total infected there to 10.

Health officials across the Asian region went on alert and urged the public to be vigilant amid the threat of a flu strain.

They also urged the public, and especially travelers, to be on guard for symptoms of the new multi-strain of swine fever.

Reports said that a British Airways cabin crew staff member is being treated in a London hospital with flu-like symptoms after arriving on a flight from Mexico City. (PNA)

scs/LGI

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