SWINE TASK FORCE. North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco (center in black) presides over the management committee meeting and orders the creation of Task Force on ASF to prevent its spread in the province on Monday (Feb. 3, 2020). Hogs in Don Marcelino town in Davao Occidental have been hit by the virus and a state of emergency had been declared in the affected Davao Occidental town. (Photo courtesy of North Cotabato PIO)

COTABATO CITY – Following the discovery of African swine fever (ASF) cases in Davao Occidental, North Cotabato Governor Nancy Catamco created on Monday the “Task Force on ASF” to prevent the entry in the province of the highly-contagious hemorrhagic viral disease of domestic hogs.

“The task force will also act as a crisis-hazard and risk management team,” Catamco said.

During the management committee meeting, Catamco approved the recommendation of Dr. Rufino Sorupia, provincial veterinarian, for the creation of the task force following the discovery of ASF cases in the Davao Occidental town of Don Marcelino, which is about 150 kilometers away from North Cotabato.

Sorupia said there are more than 200,000 hogs in the North Cotabato.

He said his office has organized teams to closely monitor entry points to the province to prevent and control the access of livestock affected by ASF and ensure the strict implementation of the provincial veterinary quarantine protocol.

In 2015, the North Cotabato Sangguniang Panlalawigan approved the veterinary quarantine ordinance, which established veterinary quarantine service centers on the Davao del Sur-North Cotabato boundaries, Davao City-North Cotabato boundaries, Maguindanao–North Cotabato boundaries, Bukidnon–North Cotabato boundaries and Lanao del Sur–North Cotabato boundaries.

Task force vs. nCoV

In the same meeting, Catamco also directed the North Cotabato Integrated Provincial Health Office (IPHO) to craft timely reminders and advisories to Cotabateños to educate them on the 2019-novel coronavirus (nCoV) and keep them informed about government efforts to contain the spread of the infection.

“Our people need assurance, not scary reports fueling their fears through false information. We, in government, should maintain calm and sobriety in facing this challenge,” Catamco said.

On Tuesday, Catamco issued an executive order that created the North Cotabato Inter-Agency Task Force on 2019-nCoV aimed at assessing the threats of the possible entry of the virus in the province.

“The task force would also establish necessary precautionary measures and outline specific courses of action to contain and handle 2019-nCov in case one resident of the province is confirmed to have the disease,” she said.

She assured that the government is doing its best to prevent the entry of the virus in the province.

Catamco also appealed to Cotabateños to maintain personal hygiene, increase water and liquid intake, eat more fruits and vegetables and immediately consult the nearest physician should symptoms of flu and fever are noted. (PNA)