BOC raises high alert on food, ‘ukay-ukay' from China

The Bureau of Customs (BOC) is on high alert status on the importation of ukay-ukay clothes and food from China amid the scare of coronavirus to reach the Philippines.

BOC Assistant Commissioner Vincent Maronilla said on Wednesday that BOC is watching against the importation of food products without license and permit from the Department of Agriculture (DA) and the Department of Health’s (DOH) Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

The bureau, in coordination with customs all over Asia, has started to intercept some exotic animals after scientists confirmed that pneumonia-like disease is transmitted from animals.

“The intelligence and enforcement groups of the Bureau of Customs are on full alert guarding against all items, not just food items, by which we coordinate with the DOH and the DA that might be a carrier or a source of carrying these diseases other than actual humans" Maronilla said in a press briefing inside the Malacañang.

According to DOH, individuals can be exposed to nCoV through direct contact of a confirmed case of nCoV, as well as interacting with a health professional from a facility taking care of confirmed patient and visiting the market from Wuhan.

“We’re now looking at critical items na puwede mag-carry ng virus na ‘to (that can carry this virus),” Maronilla said.

“We’ve already identified products that we put on high alert. Our risk management has been alerted to put them on all red flags,” the BOC official added

Maronilla also said that BOC has already asked the DOH for a list of non-food items to watch out for.

“Ilegal naman talaga ang pagpaparating ng ukay-ukay. Hinuhuli naman namin regularly yan kaya lang ngayon on heightened alert kami. Kung dati nasa No. 3 priority namin siya, automatic umaakyat kaagad ‘yan (It is really illegal to import used clothes. We continue to seize them regularly but now we’re on heightened alert. If it used to be No. 3 on our priorities, we now give it a higher priority),” he said

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