Even as there is anxiety across the region ever since a dead goose at Sukhna Lake tested positive for avian influenza or bird flu, Punjab governor and Chandigarh administrator Shivraj Patil sought to strike a note of normalcy, refusing sanitisation of the Punjab Raj Bhavan premises adjoining the lake.
"I do not want to send a message of panic among the residents," Patil said at a meeting held here on Saturday to review arrangements regarding the flu. Adding that he had even seen plague in his native state, Maharashtra, Patil said he was heading the operation against the flu and knew there was nothing to panic as of now. As part of the sanitisation, lime dust is being used at and around the lake, including at the Haryana Raj Bhavan next to Patil's residence on Saturday.
Patil told officers that they should create awareness among the residents that they must not panic as the situation was "not at all alarming".
In the past fortnight, at least 35 geese died at the lake but samples of only six were sent to the Bhopal-based National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases (NIHSAD). After the lab confirmed the presence of H5N1 virus in one goose, over 100 were culled at the lake.
Precautions on, offs cancelled
The UT administration, meanwhile, continued the fumigation process and ordered random sampling of birds at poultry farms and shops, informed sub-divisional magistrate (SDM), central, Prince Dhawan.
As many as 200 health workers held a door-to-door awareness drive survey at houses in a 3km radius of the lake. The department officials continued to keep vigil on the 33 people who were in the team that carried out the culling.
Weekly offs of at least 50 officials were cancelled for the weekend and employees of the animal husbandry, environment and health departments, besides staff of the municipal corporation and administration associated with the avian flu operation had to attend office and carry out their duties.
After Saturday's sanitation, the next one would be carried out after 10 days.
The administration is now awaiting a team from the lab in Bhopal that would test the lake water and migratory birds for traces of the flu. The lake continued to be deserted except for some officials as general entry to the area remained restricted.