New bird flu case detected in Pampanga

ANOTHER case of bird flu, involving the highly pathogenic avian influenza A (H5N6), was detected in an egg-producing farm in San Luis, Pampanga, the Bureau of Animal Industry (BAI) confirmed on Wednesday. BAI Director Ronnie D. Domingo, in a report to Agriculture Secretary William D. Dar, said 38,701 heads were depopulated and disposed of in accordance with protocols under the government’s Avian Influenza Protection Program. Mr. Domingo said initial field investigation showed the presence of migratory birds in the area, which has been associated with bird flu outbreaks worldwide. “The Department of Environment and Natural Resources has identified 117 important bird areas in the country, and about 150,000 migratory birds nest and breed annually in Central Luzon,” he said. The BAI official assured the consuming public that the bird flu strain was not reported and detected among broiler chickens, which are the primary source of poultry meat. “Early reporting, detection and strong multi-agency collaboration paved the way for the rapid and effective response in the management of the H5N6 incidence,” Mr. Domingo said. Last week, the Department of Agriculture announced the successful containment of the bird flu case in the town of Jaen, Nueva Ecija detected on March 13. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Masbate going into lockdown Aug. 5–20

AS EARLY as February this year, health safety protocols such as body temperature check for arriving passengers were already being implemented at the Masbate City port.

MASBATE PROVINCE is imposing a lockdown on August 5 to 20 to give the local government and health authorities time to fully manage the increasing number of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases, particularly among returning residents. In an executive order released July 29, Governor Antonio T. Kho said the reopening of its borders on June 1 for locally stranded persons, overseas workers, and other returning residents “transformed” Masbate “from being a COVID-free Province into one with the second highest number of COVID-19 confirmed cases in the Bicol Region.” As of July 28, the region recorded 401 confirmed cases, with 230 active and nine deaths. Masbate accounts for 57 of the total cases with 50 active. Department of Health (DoH) Bicol Director Ernie V. Vera said there are no recorded community transmission in the region. “As of today, there is no declaration of local or community transmission in Bicol by the Epidemiology Bureau. However, it has been reported by the DoH Central Office that there are certain clustering in some barangays in the region. Clustering means there are two or more COVID-19 cases in the identified barangays,” Mr. Vera said in a statement posted Tuesday evening. Mr. Kho, in his order, said the temporary lockdown next month will allow authorities to complete contact tracing activities, avoid aggravating the “congested conditions of quarantine facilities,” prevent COVID-related deaths, and bring Masbate back again to a zero-COVID status. During the lockdown, no one will be allowed to enter or exit the province, except people transporting essential goods who will be subjected to medical assessment at the ports. Travel is allowed between towns and the capital Masbate City, including inter-island with permit from the barangay head. Bicol has two accredited testing laboratories, 39 intensive care unit beds, 268 isolation beds, 145 COVID ward beds, and 29 mechanical ventilators. All the different beds have a utilization rate of about 20% while ventilators are at 3%.

DENR closes down Calamba sanitary landfill

A 6.6-HECTARE sanitary landfill in Calamba City, Laguna was shut down for violations under its environmental compliance certificate (ECC). In a statement, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources-Environmental Management Bureau (DENR-EMB) said it served a cease and desist order on July 24 to the landfill operated by S.B. Hain Enterprises and General Services Inc. at Barangay Kay-Anlog. “We cannot allow the landfill and its operator to continuously harm the environment. The Calamba sanitary landfill will remain closed until violations are corrected,” DENR Undersecretary Benny D. Antiporda said. On July 13, an EMB team inspected the facility and found nine violations under the 26 conditions in its ECC. The operators also failed to install a working drainage and leachate treatment facility. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave

Immigration, MWSS offices temporarily closed

THE WATER Regulatory Office in Quezon City has been temporarily closed starting July 29 until further notice after one of its employees tested positive for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). In an announcement on Wednesday, the Metropolitan Waterworks and Sewerage System (MWSS) said it will adopt a work-from-home scheme for all employees while the office undergoes thorough disinfection. The COVID-positive worker is already under quarantine and other employees will undergo swab testing. “We advise our stakeholders to course all inquiries, concerns, and other communication through our official email account,” the MWSS said. “Rest assured that we will fulfill our mandate and service obligations through our current work arrangement and deliver vital and timely information through our official social media pages and website,” the agency added. Meanwhile, the Bureau of Immigration main office in Manila will be closed until Thursday to allow all its employees to undergo rapid antibody tests for coronavirus infection. Commissioner Jaime H. Morente, in a statement, said only about half of nearly 700 employees at the main office have so far been tested. The General Services Section also requested for more time to complete the disinfection, he added. Office operations were closed on Monday and Tuesday for disinfection after three employees tested positive for the disease through swab test. Satellite and extension offices in other parts of Metro Manila are open. “Those who have registered with our online appointment system will be notified or may inquire about their new schedule by contacting our hotlines that can be viewed at,” he said. — Revin Mikhael D. Ochave and Vann Marlo M. Villegas

Mindanao conferences lined up for agriculture, business recovery

SEVERAL CONFERENCES are lined up in the third quarter this year to tackle programs and concerns of Mindanao’s agriculture and business sectors, and firm up plans for recovery from the impact of the coronavirus crisis. On August 27, the first stakeholders summit will be held for the Mindanao Aqua-Fisheries Development Program in Mati City, Davao Oriental. The summit is organized by the Davao Oriental provincial government with support from the Mindanao Development Authority (MinDA). The aqua-fisheries program, developed by MinDA, is one of the priority projects proposed for inclusion in the P2.1-B Rise Mindanao Grant Fund from the European Union. Aside from Davao Oriental, other coastal areas in the southern islands are being considered for funding, including those in the island provinces of Basilan, Sulu, Tawi-Tawi, Camiguin, and Dinagat. In September, the annual Mindanao Business Conference will be held virtually on the 10th-11th, with the Davao City business chamber as host. On Sept. 22–26, the Davao City chamber is also holding the 22nd Davao Agri Trade Expo (DATE) to sustain and establish new business opportunities in crops, livestock, and aquaculture. — Maya M. Padillo