Laos added to pork imports ban after ASF outbreak

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THE Department of Agriculture (DA) has added Laos to the list of countries currently banned from shipping pork products to the Philippines, to prevent the spread of African Swine Fever (ASF) after the disease was recently confirmed there.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel F. Piñol issued memorandum order no. 15, series of 2019, dated June 21, which specifies the emergency actions to be implemented to prevent the entry of pork products from Laos to prevent damage to the domestic hog industry.

“(1) Banning the importation of domestic and wild pigs and their products, including pork meat and semen; (2) Immediate suspension of the processing, evaluation of the application and issuance of Sanitary and Phytosanitary (SPS) import clearance to the above-stated commodities; (3) Stoppage and confiscation of all shipments of the above stated commodities into the country by all DA Veterinary Quarantine Officers/Inspectors at all major ports,” he said in the order, which was distributed to reporters on Thursday.

According to reports, the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) said that Laos confirmed its first cases of ASF last week, with seven outbreaks in the southern province of Saravane, which is located between the borders of Vietnam in the west and Thailand in the east. This led to the death of 973 animals.

The department currently bans imports from ASF-affected countries including Belgium, Bulgaria, China, the Czech Republic, Hungary, Latvia, Moldova, Poland, Romania, Russia, South Africa, Ukraine, Zambia, Mongolia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Hong Kong, and North Korea.

Mr. Piñol has also issued new restrictions on animal feed from those countries and deployed meat-sniffing dogs and more X-ray machines to inspect packages from the affected countries.

ASF is a non-treatable and contagious, and can kill swine in as little as two days. China, which has the largest pig herd, has reported 139 outbreaks in 32 areas. More than 1.13 million pigs have been culled as of June 20 to prevent its further spread, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization. — Vincent Mariel P. Galang