THE PHILIPPINES has temporarily banned poultry imports from Poland after an outbreak of the H5N8 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus was reported there.

In a memorandum order signed on Dec. 21, Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar suspended imports of domestic and wild birds and their products including meat, day-old chicks, eggs, and semen from Poland.

The ban also freezes the processing, evaluation, and issuance of sanitary and phytosanitary import clearances for these commodities.

According to Mr. Dar, the ban was implemented after Poland sent a report to the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE) dated Dec. 3, which confirmed the H5N8 outbreak in Mazowieckie.

There is a need to prevent the entry of the highly pathogenic avian influenza virus to protect the health of the local poultry population,” Mr. Dar said.

In a mobile phone message, Jesus C. Cham, president of the Meat Importers and Traders Association (MITA) said the new ban is unfortunate for the industry.

There seem to be more outbreaks this year. Hopefully, the situation will improve in the coming spring and summer,” Mr. Cham said.

As of the end of November, the Philippines imported 1,589 metric tons (MT) of meat from Poland, according to the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI).

The total accounts for 0.19% of Philippine meat imports overall of 825,152 MT to that date.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) recently lifted its import ban on Brazil after it submitted the requested safety certifications and gave assurances of adequate precautions taken at processing plants to prevent contamination with the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

In August, the DA banned the entry of Brazilian poultry after China found traces of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in chicken meat.

According to BAI data as of Nov. 30, Brazilian meat imports totaled 126,285 MT, or 15.3% of all meat imports to date.

We are being overtaken by events. There is nothing we can do about it, but try to make the best of things. Supplies from Brazil will arrive by the end of February, onwards,” Mr. Cham said. Revin Mikhael D. Ochave