The Centre has formed a three-member panel to look into the swelling avian flu crisis in the National Capital Region. So far, 40 birds have been reported dead from HS avian influenza in the region. On Saturday, authorities had reported that 17 ducks were found dead at Delhi’s Hauz Khas deer park, while similar cases were reported from the Gwalior zoo as well.
The local administration has sent the carcasses of seven birds, collected from across the Capital, for examination. Delhi Rural Development Minister Gopal Rai visited the deer park on Sunday and held a meeting with experts and Delhi District Authority officials. Rai said a coordination committee meeting will be held on Monday to discuss the city's preparations to handle the virus, according to The Indian Express.
Gwalior District Collector Sanjay Goyal said the strain found in the dead birds were of a new avian flu subtype – H5N8. Moreover, Delhi authorities believe humans are not in danger of contracting it as the virus was "less infective".
The Union Environment Ministry said it was keeping a close eye on the situation. The Arvind Kejriwal government said DDA officials have been advised to bury the carcasses deep in the group, in keeping with the guidelines. They have also been asked to implement necessary disinfection processes at the Delhi zoo, deer park and Ghazipur mandi.
Delhi's National Zoological Park curator Riyaz Khan said they assuming that migratory birds may have carried the strains, and it was unlikely that resident birds could have caught the virus. They are waiting for test results from Jalandhar and Bhopal to confirm this.
The Delhi zoo had been shut down temporarily on October 19 after eight birds died from suspected avian influenza. The reports of bird flu come about a month after India had declared itself free from the contagious H5N1 virus. Gwalior zoo was also shut down on September 21 after 15 birds died of the suspected virus.
On September 14, the Department of Animal Husbandry had stated, "India has declared itself free from avian influenza from September 5 and notified the same to the World Organisation for Animal Health."