Malacañang on Saturday advised the public to refrain from spreading “unverified information” that may cause undue alarm after the first bird flu outbreak in the country was confirmed to have spread in two towns in Nueva Ecija.
“We are closely monitoring the situation in Nueva Ecija following the confirmation of poultry death with the culling yesterday by the Department of Agriculture,” Palace spokesman Ernesto Abella said in a statement.
“We ask our people to remain calm yet vigilant and to refrain from spreading unverified information that may
cause undue alarm and panic,” he added.
On Friday, Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said tests confirmed that the avian flu virus strain found in San Luis, Pampanga has also been found in the towns of Jaen and San Isidro in Nueva Ecija, about 32 kilometers away.
Abella told the public not to worry as concerned government officials have been quick in their response.
“They have established heightened surveillance and community action teams for detection of other fowl deaths and possible flu cases in humans,” the Palace official said.
“They have likewise established advance command posts in San Nicolas, Pampanga and San Isidro Nueva Ecija with capacity to response 24/7,” he added.
Abella also said government health officers have trained personnel of the Armed Forces of the Philippines and have provided Personal Protective Equipment and Prophylaxis Medicines (Tamiflu), good for 10 days, to soldiers tasked to perform the culling.
“As of this time, there has been no report of bird to human contamination in the Philippines,” Abella said.
“We reiterate that Bird Flu is transferred via respiratory route. Properly cooked chicken, meat and egg remain safe to eat.”
Mayor Cesario Lopez of San Isidro, meanwhile, instructed the Municipal Health Office to place 25 poultry workers under observation in a provincial hospital in Cabanatuan City to prevent the possible spread of the disease.
Some 9,000 quails and 200 fowls were reported to have died this week in Jaen and San Isidro, respectively.
Assistant Secretary Enrico Garzon of the Department of Agriculture’s Bureau of Animal Industry earlier reported that some 80,000 fowls would have been culled by 50 soldiers of the Philippine Army by Saturday.
A state of calamity is also expected to be declared by the local government in light of the outbreak.
Poultry owner Marilyn Ortiz-Luis of MMJAY Farm in Barangay San Roque complained about the closure of her business, as the veterinary office of the town suspected that 80,000 chickens have been infected.
Police and health personnel were posted at the poultry farm to ensure compliance of the closure order and monitor movements of fowls and the health condition of its workers.
Luis’ son Jayjay said their poultry farm produces about 74,000 eggs a day, estimated to cost P200,000.
The government, to compensate affected poultry farm owners, will pay P80 for each culled chicken.
WITH A REPORT FROM CELSO CAJUCOM