The Delhi government has written to the Centre to reopen parks that were closed after the bird flu scare as no fresh cases have surfaced over the last 45 days. While the standard protocol calls for 90 days of quarantine in case of the deadlier H5N1 avian influenza virus, there is no clarity in the case of H5N8 strain which surfaced in the Capital in October.
“Two test results have come negative in a gap of 15 days and the third one’s samples have already been sent. It has been 45 days so we have asked for permission to reopen these. However, standard protocol in case of H5N1 calls for 90 days of quarantine. If the results are still negative then these spots can be reopened,” a senior Delhi animal husbandry department official told HT.
The H5N8 virus, which was detected in samples of the dead birds across Delhi, is not fatal for human beings but could have resulted in massive bird fatality. The avian influenza virus was responsible for nearly a hundred bird deaths in the Capital.
The areas that were closed for public after bird carcasses tested positive for H5N8 strain include: a pond in West Delhi’s Madipur, Shakti Sthal near Raj Ghat, Delhi Zoo, Hauz Khas Deer Park and District Park in Paschim Vihar. The Delhi government has now written to the Centre to reopen these spots, barring the zoo.
“After the deaths stopped, tests were done every 15 days as these spots couldn’t be reopened until we were completely sure that these were virus-free,” the official said.
As a part of the precautionary measures, all government departments were asked to spread lime powder around every water body. Officials were also spraying anti-virus sodium hypochlorite on birds where they usually gather.
The Delhi government had also issued an 11-point health advisory which asked people to avoid direct contact with bird secretions and carcasses, consume only completely cooked chicken and not to consume uncooked or half cooked chicken or half boiled or half fried eggs.