THE Department of Agriculture (DA) imposed a ban on the importation of domestic and wild birds from the Netherlands because of an outbreak of bird flu in two of its cities.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol said the ban included poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and semen.

“There’s need to prevent entry of HPAI virus to protect the health of the local poultry population,” Piñol said, referring to the spread of the H5N6 highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) in Grootegast, Groningen.

In its Memorandum Order 7 on March 1, 2018, the DA cited a report from the World Organization for Animal Health saying that The Netherlands was hit by H5N6, a highly pathogenic bird flu strain which also affected poultry farms in the provinces of Pampanga and Nueva Ecija in August 2017.

With the ban in place, the DA has suspended the processing and evaluation of applications for and the issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances covering the affected commodities.

The DA chief also stressed that veterinary quarantine officers and inspectors in all major Philippine ports must stop and confiscate all inbound shipments of the banned items, except heat-treated products. EIREENE JAIREE GOMEZ