The Union government on Wednesday set up a high-level committee to monitor the avian influenza situation in the country and guide state governments in their efforts against the virus, PTI reported. The department of Animal Husbandry and the Union Agriculture Ministry has started a helpline with the numbers 011-23384190 and 09448324121 to provide 24/7 information service about the flu.

A statement issued by the government said the panel will have representatives from the Ministry of Health, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Department of Agriculture Research and Extension and the Delhi government. States have been asked to take the necessary precautions and maintain hygiene levels in zoological parks housing wild birds, water bodies as well as meat/poultry market areas.

The Delhi zoo had been shut down temporarily on October 19 after eight birds died from suspected avian influenza, followed by the Hauz Khas Deer Park on October 20 for similar reasons. Gwalior zoo was also shut down on October 21 after 15 birds died of the suspected virus. The reports of bird flu come about a month after India had declared itself free from the contagious H5N1 virus.