Amid “misleading” messages on links between poultry and novel coronavirus (COVID-19), State Animal Husbandry Commissioner Sachindra Pratap Singh on Thursday clarified that it was safe to consume poultry and poultry products and that they do not cause the disease in human beings.
“A complaint against unidentified persons has also been filed with the Pune police’s Cyber Crime Cell against misleading messages being floated on social media about linkages between consumption of chicken and coronavirus,” Singh said at a press conference in Pune.
Singh also urged experts from the National Institute of Virology (NIV) and Sassoon General Hospital to clarify doubts on this issue, as inaccurate and unscientific information was circulating on WhatsApp and Facebook in the wake of the recent disease outbreak.
Experts including Dr B V Tandaley, senior scientist with NIV, and Dr Rajesh Karyakarte, acting dean in charge at the B J Medical College and Sassoon hospital, stressed that transmission of coronavirus occurs from person to person and poultry species do not have any role in the transmission of the disease. “Poultry meat and poultry products are safe for human consumption and people should not believe in misleading messages on social media,” Dr Tandaley reiterated.
In Maharashtra, the daily consumption of chicken is estimated to be 3,000 to 3,500 tonnes, but this has dropped by 1,000 tonnes due to the COVID-19 rumours. “There is a need to regain consumers’ confidence… the livelihood of many farmers in the state depends on poultry farming, including those cultivating soyabean and maize,” said Singh.
The poultry industry has lost at least Rs 150 crore between February 4 and 19, said Prasanna Pedgaonkar, general manager of Venkateshwara Hatcheries.
Meanwhile, according to the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), a total of 2,658 samples have been tested till February 19, of which 1,308 were from those who were evacuated from Wuhan, the epicentre of the outbreak.
All the samples, including
those collected from 654 quarantined individuals on day 0 and day 14 of the quarantine, have tested negative.
The other 1,350 samples were taken from suspected cases throughout the country, excluding those from quarantine centres. Till date, three of the 1,350 have tested positive for COVID-19. Of the three positive cases, two have now been discharged from hospital, Dr Tandaley told mediapersons.
Dr Rajesh Karyakarte said Sassoon General Hospital has set up an isolation ward with ICU facility but so far, it had seen no coronavirus case.
ICMR’s ‘One Health’ Centre at Nagpur
In view of the ‘One Health’ concept put forward by the World Health Organisation, ICMR has decided to set up this facility, dedicated for research and development, in the field of zoonotic diseases. Dr D D Parkale, additional commissioner of state Animal Husbandry department, said the ‘One Health’ centre at Nagpur aims to bring all sciences under one roof.
Dr Parkale also said vaccination of cattle against foot and mouth disease will commence in March this year.
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