Zubiri calls on DA, other agencies to act faster in containing ASF spread

Robie de Guzman   •   September 16, 2019   •   445

Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday (Sept. 16) called on the Department of Agriculture (DA) and other concerned government agencies to move faster in containing the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF) in hog farms in the country.

Zubiri made the appeal after the DA confirmed that the ASF caused the deaths of swine in several areas in Bulacan and Rizal provinces.

READ: DA, BAI confirm ASF outbreak, call on public to help prevent spread of pig disease

“Ako po ay lubos na nababahala sa pagpasok ng African Swine Fever sa ating bansa bagamat hindi pa natutukoy kung anong strain ang tumama sa ating swine population,” the senator said in a statement.

(I am very much worried over the entry of the African Swine Fever in the country although we have yet to determine the kind of strain that hit our swine population.)

Zubiri also recalled issuing a warning to agency officials about the possible spread of the swine disease during a hearing of the Senate committee on agriculture and food on the ASF in March.

He also recommended during the said hearing the implementation of tighter monitoring and security measures in the country’s sea and airports to prevent the entry of ASF into the country.

“Noong Marso 20 ng taong ito ay pinamunuan natin ang Committee hearing ng Senate Committee on Agriculture and Food kung saan kung saan sinabi ko na — that the damage and economic losses caused by the recent water crisis in some parts of Metro Manila would be incomparable to the havoc and economic losses the ASF could bring into the whole country if ever this epidemic will reach our shores. So, we must not let our guard down, this is a very serious concern,” he said.

“Hiniling din natin na kung maaari ay mag-impose ng total ban sa importation ng pork mula sa ibang bansa. Subalit nakapasok pa rin sa bansa ang ASF. Gusto ko pong malaman ano po ang nangyari? Naging maluwag ba tayo sa pagbabantay?” he added.

“Ngayong andito na sa bansa ang ASF, nais natin na mas higpitan ng DA at iba pang ahensya ng pamahalaan at ng publiko ang pagbabantay at pag-contain nito upang di na kumalat pa sa ibang probinsya o lugar sa bansa. Kailangan nating paigtingin ang bio-security ng ating mga swine farms at wag na po sanang magdala ang ating mga kababayan ng mga pork products mula sa ASF affected countries.” Zubiri further said.

The Philippines’ swine industry is the sixth biggest in the world.

According to Zubiri, most of these hog raisers are backyard growers whose losses will be devastating if the government failed to contain the spread of ASF in the country.

“Let’s save our hog industry especially the backyard raisers,” he said.

DA Secretary William Dar earlier said that the pig virus has already been contained in Barangay Pritil and Guiguinto in Bulacan as well as in several barangays in Rodriguez, San Mateo, and Antipolo in Rizal.

He also stressed that the outbreak is not affecting the entire country, thus, he appeals to the public as well as the media not to ignite fear as unverified and unvalidated reports could create irreversible damage to the country’s hog industry which is also the source of livelihood for millions of Filipinos.

DA-BAI assures no broilers affected by bird flu in Pampanga

Marje Pelayo   •   July 30, 2020

MANILA, Philippines — The Department of Agriculture (DA) through the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) reported a confirmed case of bird flu or a highly-pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) strain, specifically A(H5N6), at a poultry layer or egg-producing farm in San Luis, Pampanga.

Upon confirming the report, the department immediately sent a composite team of veterinarians and animal health officers to the area to apply emergency control measures to contain the spread of the bird disease. 

The team also conducted disease surveillance around the infected farm.

“The team humanely culled a total of 38,701 head of layers and disposed off of them properly, employing the protocols under the Avian Influenza Protection Program of the Philippine Government,” DA-BAI Director Ronnie Domingo reported.

All personnel involved in the disease control measures were strictly monitored by the health office of San Luis, said Domingo.

Domingo has assured that there were no reports or detection of A(H5N6) among broilers, the primary source of poultry meat, in the area.

Zubiri says confirmatory test yielded negative result for COVID-19

Robie de Guzman   •   July 28, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Tuesday said he is free from the live novel coronavirus strain that causes the disease based on the result of his confirmatory test.

In a message to reporters, Zubiri said his PCR-based test conducted by the Philippine Red Cross yielded a negative result.

“Thank you so much for the concern and prayers! I AM NEGATIVE… Thank you to our Lord God above! My confirmatory test with the Philippine Red Cross has come out and shows that I no longer have live RNA cells of Covid-19,” he said.

“What the infectious disease experts  have told us is that the DOH result yesterday possibly detected remnants of dead virus cells which is a common occurrence with recovered Patients,” he added.

The senator on Monday said he took a confirmatory test after his three rapid tests showed his body is possessing anti-bodies, and a swab test yielded positive result.

Zubiri was among the eight senators who had to undergo COVID-19 tests on Sunday as part of the safety protocols for attending President Rodrigo Duterte’s State of the Nation Address in Batasang Pambansa on Monday.

The test result prompted Zubiri to cancel his attendance and opted to monitor the event from home.

The senator said the Red Cross’ PCR machines can detect and differentiate live virus from the remnants of the cells.

“Studies from Europe, Asia and the US have shown that recovered patients with antibodies are no longer infectious and if COVID cells are discovered in their system it is most likely remnants of the dead COVID cells which can no longer contaminate as found in extensive studies in South Korea,” he said.

“Ibig sabihin nito ay hindi na po ito nakakahawa at ligtas po ang recovered patient habang meron pa po siyang Antibodies,” he added.

Zubiri, along with Senators Sonny Angara and Aquilino “Koko” Pimentel, contracted COVID-19 in the previous months but they have all since recovered.

Zubiri says he tested positive for COVID-19 anew

Robie de Guzman   •   July 27, 2020

MANILA, Philippines – Senate Majority Leader Juan Miguel Zubiri on Monday said he once again tested positive for novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

Zubiri received the result shortly before he was supposed to have headed to the Batasang Pambansa to hear President Rodrigo Duterte’s fifth State of the Nation Address (SONA).

In a message to reporters, he said his three rapid tests showed his body is possessing anti-bodies, and a swab test confirmed that he is positive once more for the viral disease.

“According to doctors, it is possible that the test detected the remnants of the dead virus cells in my body as I am a COVID survivor,” he said.

“So, I decided to forgo any other appointments and head back to my isolation room for quarantine,” he added.

Prior to getting confirmation that he is infected anew with the virus, Zubiri physically attended the opening of the second regular session of the 18th Congress on Monday morning where he interacted with other senators.

He was supposed to physically attend Duterte’s SONA presentation but decided to just witness the event via video conferencing.

Zubiri said he took another swab test on Monday afternoon to check if he really is infected again with the virus.

He also assured he is not exhibiting any symptoms of the dreaded viral respiratory disease.

“I’m hoping that it’s a negative result there to confirm what our infectious disease experts told me earlier. I feel absolutely fine, wala po akong nararamdaman at wala po akong sintomas,” he said.

“But it’s better to be safe and to keep everyone safe from this virus. And I will continue to work from isolation virtually until I get my consecutive negative results after quarantine. Thank you for everyone’s concerns,” he added.

Zubiri first tested positive for COVID-19 in March but he recovered from the disease in April.

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