Philippines tightens guard vs China pork smugglers as potential pandemic looms

Arianne Merez, ABS-CBN News

Posted at Jul 02 2020 02:31 PM | Updated as of Jul 02 2020 02:51 PM

A backyard hog raiser prepares to shower his pigs and clean their pen on September 16, 2019 in Malolos, Bulacan. Jonathan Cellona, ABS-CBN News

MANILA - The Philippines is on guard against smuggling of pork products especially from China as the government monitors a new type of swine flu which researchers fear could trigger another pandemic while the COVID-19 outbreak persists.

Authorities have tightened its monitoring of the entry of pork products in the Philippines, Agriculture Secretary William Dar said.

"Nakikiusap kami sa mga nagnenegosyo na nagpaparating pa rin illegally nitong mga pork and pork products lalo galing China... Huwag natin dagdagan ang problema natin sa bansa," he said in a virtual press briefing.

(I am appealing to businessmen smuggling pork and pork products especially from China... Let's not add to the problems of the country.)

"We have also elevated the quarantine measures in seaports, and port areas, airports natin para babantayan po natin (so we can monitor)," he added.

The Philippines has long banned pork and chicken from China due to its cases of bird flu and foot and mouth disease.

Researchers have reported a new swine flu named G4 that genetically descended from the H1N1 strain that caused a pandemic in 2009. 

It possesses "all the essential hallmarks of being highly adapted to infect humans," said scientists at Chinese universities and China's Center for Disease Control and Prevention. 

The Bureau of Animal Industry on Wednesday said a Philippine inter-agency committee on zoonoses or diseases that jump from animals to humans will meet to prepare for G4.

- with a report from Agence France-Presse