- Parliamentary Standing Committee on Agriculture will hold a meet today
- Haryana has reported the highest number of bird deaths
- Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting this evening to review situation
Here are 10 developments in this big story:
Delhi has banned import of live birds and the biggest wholesale poultry market in Ghazipur has been temporarily shut down. "Everyday 250-300 tonne of stock used to come here. Business of Rs 2.5 crore has been impacted', said Mohd Saleem, General Secretary, Ghazipur Wholesale Poultry Market Association. Commenting on the issue, Minister of Animal Husbandry Giriraj Singh today said: "If Delhi would've followed centre's advisory, first issued in October, 2019, there wouldn't have been a need to shut the market. Panic has spread within 500 km. I've written to the Chief Minister."
Rapid response teams have been formed in every district in the national capital. "The focus is particularly on the poultry markets in Sanjay Lake, Bhalswa Lake, and Hauz Khas," Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal said on Saturday. Processed or packaged chicken cannot be brought from other states and sold in Delhi, Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia today said.
In Maharashtra, Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray will hold a meeting this evening to review the situation. Parbhani - about 500 km from state capital Mumbai - is the epicenter. "About 800 poultry birds - all hens - died in the last two days," Deepak Madhukar Munglikar, District Collector, told NDTV. "Bird flu has been confirmed in Murumba village. There are about eight poultry farms and 8,000 birds. We have given orders of culling those poultry birds," he added.
Avian Influenza is confirmed in crows from Mumbai, Thane, Beed, Dapoli in Maharashtra. A medical team is in Murrumba, declared as an "infected village", and sale of poultry birds within 10 km is prohibited.
In Kerala, tens of thousands of birds were culled last week after 12,000 ducks died and the H5N8 strain of Avian Influenza was confirmed in parts of Alappuzha and Kottayam districts. Sale of poultry and related products has been regulated only in the affected parts.
In Haryana, culling of over 1.6 lakh birds at five poultry farms began in Panchkula district on Saturday, news agency PTI reported. More than four lakh birds were found dead in the state in the last two-three weeks.
Himachal Pradesh had reported deaths of over 2,000 birds, most of them bar-headed geese, at Pong Dam sanctuary. Slaughter, sale, purchase and export of any poultry birds, fish of any breed and their related products, including eggs, meat, chicken, have been banned in Kangra district, marked as an epicentre.
Across the country, chief secretaries of states and union territories have been asked by the government to monitor the situation and keep effective communication open with health officials, particularly with regards to avoiding the spread of the disease to humans. They have also been asked to track water bodies, bird markets, zoos, poultry farms, and all their surrounding areas.
States have also been told to ensure availability of PPE kits and accessories to be used to cull birds and dispose of carcases and bird waste. They have also been asked to tackle rumours that influence poultry product consumers. They are expected to increase awareness about their safety, especially after the products are boiled or cooked.
Last week, the government clarified that the disease is "zoonotic" but infection in humans has not been reported in India. The country reported the first outbreak of Avian Influenza in 2006. The disease spreads mainly by migratory birds coming into the country during winter months from September-October to February- March. The secondary spread by human handling (through fomites) cannot be ruled out, according to the government. Bird flu viruses have been circulating worldwide for centuries with four known major outbreaks recorded in the last century.