SAN LUIS, Philippines – Hundred of Philippines Army soldiers have been called up on Thursday to help with a bird cull in the main northern island of Luzon following an outbreak of avian flu.
The Department of Agriculture announced that it had enlisted the help of the army to assist with the outbreak which was centered around the municipality of San Luis, 75 kilometers (47 miles) north of the capital, Manila.
A bird flu outbreak warning said the troops would help in a “depopulation process” that would cover “about 600,000 fowls” at 36 farms.
Agriculture Secretary Emmanuel Piñol also requested the assistance of the Philippine National Police to secure and strengthen quarantine stations.
Soldiers arrived at a designated command center in Pampanga province on Thursday to be briefed on health and safety measures, including being issued with protective clothing, an epa photographer in San Luis reports.
A “Ground Zero outbreak” quarantine area has been extended to a one-kilometer perimeter around San Luis, and a ban on movement of poultry products in a wider 7-kilometer zone has also been imposed.
Security forces will help secure the quarantine stations in order to prevent the movement of poultry animals and products outside the zones that have been affected by the outbreak.
Piñol said that, in accordance with international protocols, farmers will not be allowed to return to their farms to work for at least 90 days.
The agriculture department advised it is to compensate farmers 80 pesos ($1.56) per culled bird, and offer a 25,000 peso loan as part of its Survival and Recovery Assistance Program.
“This is an urgent matter which is a big threat to our poultry industry,” Piñol said. “We should eradicate bird flu as a country and stop finding ways to hide its presence.”
The Governor of Pampanga, the region where the outbreak has occurred, also announced a provincial “state of calamity” to activate funds of up to 1 million pesos to help farmers offset the losses the outbreak is expected to cause.