With poultry farms in two of its towns - Jaen and San Isidro - testing positive for the avian flu virus, the provincial government of Nueva Ecija has declared a state of calamity in the two areas.

Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Pinol confirmed via a post on a social media website last week that two new cases of avian flu have been confirmed by the Bureau of Animal Industry and the two towns.

Previously, some farms also in Jaen and in San Luis, Pampanga - a little more than 30 kilometres away - were found to have the same H5 avian flu strain.

Secretary Pinol noted that unlike in San Luis, cases from the Nueva Ecija towns were promptly reported.

"A one kilometer contained radius and a seven-kilometer controlled radius were established just like in San Luis, Pampanga," he said.

About 160,000 heads have been estimated for culling, 90,000 of them quails. Culling has started in the area surrounding the farm - within a one-kilometre radius - where the fowls were infected.

Nueva Ecija reportedly hasa poultry population of about six million.

Police forces are helping the BAI, an agency within the DA, in implementing safety measures. The Philippine Army has likewise committed 100 troops to assist in the operations.

The Army troops will provide aid in depopulating fowls within the one-kilometre radius. After depopulation, officials will conduct disinfection from the foundation to the roof for several days.

"Secretary Paulyn Jean Ubial has deployed a team to Nueva Ecija following the confirmation of the outbreaks in San Isidro and Jaen," Department of Health Assistant Secretary Dr Enrique Tayag, was quoted as saying.

Dr Tayag earlier noted that possible exposure to the avian flu (animal to human) could be among those who live in farms where there is an ongoing outbreak, those who touched the animal whether sick or healthy, and those within the environment who are tasked with activities. MIMS

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