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African Swine Fever spread slowed down during COVID-19 lockdown, says DA

The spread of the African swine fever (ASF), a disease affecting livestock hogs, which hit the country last year has already slowed down amid the lockdown imposed to contain another virus affecting humans —COVID-19, according to the Department of Agriculture-Bureau of Animal Industry (DA-BAI).

In a virtual meeting, BAI officer-in-charge director Ronnie Domingo said that ASF cases declined 69% to 20 cases per million pigs since the enhanced community quarantine was put in place mid-March from 63 cases per million pigs in August 2019 —when the outbreak was first recorded in the Philippines.

Domingo attributed the decline in ASF cases to the strict travel restrictions which hindered the local transmission of the deadly hog virus.

The BAI chief, however, said culled pigs have increased to a total of 297,287 from more than 280,000 reported as of April.

In the country’s latest report to the World Organization of Animal Health, the BAI noted that new ASF cases were recorded recently in Pangasinan, Quezon, Benguet, Ifugao, Camarines Sur, Laguna, Batangas, Cavite, Aurora, and Nueva Vizcaya.

BAI data showed that the ASF has affected eight regions, 223 cities and municipalities, 25 provinces, and 967 barangays.

The DA is reviewing the suggested retail price (SRP) of pork for a possible hike due to increased production cost. 

The recommendation of stakeholders —composed of representatives from the Bureau of Animal Industry, National Meat Inspection Service, and Samahang Industriya ng Agrikultura (SINAG)—will be sent to the DA next week.

Some hog raisers depopulated their farms due to the risk of ASF, according to the DA.

Though hog raisers in areas unaffected by the disease increased the number of their livestock, the delivery was hampered by the checkpoints due to the quarantine measures being implemented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

As an intervention to the limited supply, the DA said it will use its quick response fund to support farmers in safe areas with the repopulation. —LDF, GMA News