Sun. Sep 19th, 2021

MANILA – The Luzon-wide enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) will also exempt veterinarians, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said late Wednesday night.

In a press briefing in Malacañang, Dar said veterinarians will also be allowed to travel within Luzon based on the quarantine’s guidelines.

“Essential farm personnel that works at the production area bearing proper documentation are also requested to be accorded passage at the quarantine checkpoints and these include veterinarians, and other farm and fisherfolks,” Dar said.

He noted that vets will also be issued with necessary identification to be presented to uniformed personnel at checkpoints.

Earlier exempted workers include health workers, emergency front liners (e.g. law enforcers), select government workers, diplomats, businesses offering basic services and commodities, media personnel, and Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) workers.

The movement of cargo for food, pharmacies, and other companies offering basic services will be unhampered during quarantine to ensure stable supply and prices.

Veterinarians play an important role in containing the outbreak of H5N6 avian influenza or bird flu at a quail farm in Jaen, Nueva Ecija, and African swine fever (ASF) nationwide.

A total of 12,000 heads of quails were depopulated and buried on March 14 in Jaen after the discovery of the bird flu case as reported by the Nueva Ecija Provincial Veterinary Office.

The Department of Agriculture (DA) has placed under surveillance the seven-kilometer radius from the affected farm to contain the outbreak.

On the other hand, over 200,000 hogs, representing 1.85 percent of the country’s 12.8 million pigs, have been culled due to ASF.

The disease has affected about 625 barangays in 160 towns and cities nationwide.

Presidential Spokesperson Salvador Panelo earlier assured that the government is ready to respond to these animal-borne diseases on top of Covid-19.

Last month, President Rodrigo Duterte signed Executive Order No. 105 creating a task force that will prevent the spread of and contain animal-borne diseases including ASF in the country.

The workgroup, which will be called National Task Force Animal-Borne Disease, is mandated to enhance contingency and action plans for emergency disease control, monitor implementation of regulations and policies on proper waste disposal, quarantine, and biosecurity. (PNA)

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