MANILA, Philippines — The Philippines continues to tighten its security against the African swine fever (ASF), this time temporarily banning pork imports from Japan in the effort to protect the P200-billion local hog industry.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol ordered a temporary ban on the entry of pork and other pork products from Japan following reports of its spread.
“All quarantine officers in ports of entry all over the country are directed to implement the directive immediately,” Piñol said over the weekend.
“The quarantine officers are also advised to review their quarantine protocols, including the foot baths installed at the ports of entry and the monitoring of all meat products being brought into the country by tourists,” he added.
The Japanese government has reported seven cases have already been confirmed where pork containing the ASF virus was found at domestic airports.
Japan has strengthened quarantine measures at domestic airports and ports as well as at post offices handling international mail.
Just last month, the Department of Agriculture expanded the importation ban on pigskin leather amid continuous outbreaks of the virus.
The ASF has been described by experts as a “contagious, untreatable and often fatal virus sweeping the global pig population – and future mutations could affect humans.”
ASF is a highly contagious hemorrhagic disease of pigs, warthogs, European wild boar and American wild pigs. Mortality rates are as high as 100 percent.
Pork import ban is still in effect for 13 countries: Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Moldova, South Africa, Zambia, Belgium, Latvia, Poland, Romania, Russia, Ukraine, Hungary and China.
Currently, there is a mandatory inspection, in coordination with other concerned agencies, of all vessels docking in Philippine ports with meat supplies and fishing boats returning from the West Philippine Sea because of reports of bartering of sea products with imported meat.
A close coordination by the DA-Bureau of Animal Industry with the Bureau of Customs at all international air and sea ports for the conduct of rigid inspection for the checked in and hand-carried luggage of all incoming passengers from ASF-affected countries is also implemented.
Authorities are confiscating and destroying all pork products coming from ASF-affected countries within 24 hours after interception.