The Centre Saturday formed a three-member committee to monitor the bird flu situation after 24 birds were found dead in the capital. The Union Environment Ministry has begun coordinating with state agencies to monitor zoos across the country and contain the H5 avian influenza, Minister Anil Madhav Dave said in a series of tweets on Saturday.
The Delhi government had earlier asked the Environment Ministry to issue advisories to all wildlife and bird sanctuaries across the country. Meanwhile, the Delhi government reported six more bird deaths in the Central Park, Hauz Khas, taking the count to 17.
An official in the animal husbandry said, “There have been 17 deaths of ducks in the Hauz Khas park, which remains closed to visitors. We are taking all precautions at the park and a permanent team has been deployed there, which is monitoring the situation closely.”
He added, “There have been no casualties reported from the national zoological park in the capital… so we have taken no new samples from there today.”
As a precautionary measure, the Delhi government collected more samples from the Ghazipur chicken mandi Saturday.
“We might also begin a mock drill for culling of birds,” said an official.
Neighbouring states such as Rajasthan, which transport poultry to Delhi, have directed government officials to take “precautionary measures” before sending out orders for poultry.
On Friday, the Delhi government had said that test reports on a few samples collected so far had revealed the presence of the H5N8 flu, which is not known to infect human beings.
Meanwhile, as a confidence-building measure, Delhi zoo opened its gates to the media and took reporters around the bird enclosures.
“The chances of the resident birds contracting the influenza are meek. So, we are assuming that the migratory birds may have carried the pathogenic strains. However, we can be clear only when we get a word from Jalandhar and Bhopal where we have sent the samples,” zoo curator Riyaz Khan said.
On being asked about the Centre-appointed committee to monitor the situation, Khan said the panel is at present looking at the guidelines and measures to be adopted in case of such deaths.
Khan said no fresh deaths were reported at the zoo since the past two days. Twelve water birds, including six pelicans, painted storks and ducks have died at the zoo in the past week.
(With inputs from PTI)