BACOLOD CITY – Starting on Good Friday, Negros Occidental Province will enforce an indefinite ban on the entry of live birds and poultry products from Luzon, Mindanao, and other areas with reported bird flu cases.

The move was based on Executive Order (EO) 22-15 issued by Governor Eugenio Jose on Wednesday afternoon after the provincial government initially banned domestic and wild birds, and their products, including poultry meat, day-old chicks, eggs, semen, and manure from February 28 to March 15.

“This EO shall take effect 12 a.m. of April 15 and shall remain valid until recalled, to ensure the safety of the poultry industry in Negros Occidental as well as to protect the general public from the ill-effects of the highly pathogenic avian influenza,” Lacson said.

Data from the Provincial Veterinary Office shows Negros Occidental has a PHP8-billion poultry industry, which includes the PHP4-billion broiler and native chicken sectors; the PHP3-billion game fowls; and the PHP1-billion layer and duck sectors.

Lacson said should there be a probable bird flu case in the Visayas, a preemptive ban will also be imposed.

EO 22-15 provides the requirements for entry of live domestic and wild birds and their products, including raw poultry meat and eggs, from other regions within the Visayas such as veterinary health certificate, shipping permit, negative test result for avian influenza, and meat inspection certificate.

Lacson directed veterinary inspectors to intercept the entry and confiscate birds and poultry products from restricted regions during the conduct of inspection at seaports, airports, and other ports of entry.

“In order to ensure the safety of everyone in Negros Occidental, all local chief executives are directed to strengthen biosafety, hygiene, and sanitation standards in slaughterhouses/abattoirs, public markets, and poultry farms in their respective areas of jurisdiction,” he added.

In February, affected birds in the provinces of Bulacan and Pampanga were found positive for bird flu while in March, the bird flu strain was also detected in Tacurong City, Sultan Kudarat.

On April 6, the bird flu has spread to the provinces of Bataan, Benguet, Nueva Ecija, and Tarlac in Luzon as well as to the provinces of Davao del Sur, North Cotabato, and South Cotabato in Mindanao.

Since September 2019, Negros Occidental has also banned the entry of live pigs and pork products from Luzon, Mindanao and Eastern Visayas, which have confirmed cases of African swine fever, to protect its PHP6-billion hog industry. (PNA)