Popular Delhi park shut down amid bird flu scare

With eight more birds succumbing to bird flu in Delhi, authorities on Thursday shut down the popular Deer Park and warned people not to touch any dead bird.

delhi Updated: Oct 21, 2016 07:32 IST
Deer Park,Bird flu,H5N1
Deaths of two more birds each were reported in Delhi Zoo and Deer Park while three dead birds were spotted in Sundar Nagar, near the zoo, and one in Tughlakabad in the city’s deep south.(Arun Sharma/HT Photo)

A sprawling park popular for family outings was shut down on Thursday after more avian deaths were reported from across Delhi even as the government said it was in control of the situation amid a bird flu scare in the national capital.

Dead birds were found close to a water body at a park in Hauz Khas, at Sunder Nagar and Tughlaqabad in the city’s deep south besides three more at the zoo, which officials described as the ground zero of the bird flu outbreak. The zoo was closed on Tuesday.

“We are trying our level best to control the situation and won’t let it go (to) bad… We are taking all precautionary measures. For now, citizens don’t need to worry,” Delhi’s development minister Gopal Rai said.

Officials said the closure was ordered for the part of the park that contains the lake, and is called District Park, but for Delhi residents the entire park is Deer Park. The water body attracts a large number of migratory birds, the primary carriers of the H5N1 virus.

Gajender Singh, director, horticulture of Delhi Development Authority (DDA) said the District Park spread over 90 acres has been closed for three days.

Read: H5N1 virus confirmed in dead migratory birds in Delhi

The first bird flu cases in the city-state was confirmed earlier this week after samples taken from dead birds at the zoo tested positive for the contagious disease.

Rai said results of 50 more samples -- carcass, saliva, droppings and blood samples -- sent to a laboratory in Jalandhar are expected on Saturday.

“…Only then it can be ascertained if the virus has entered the food chain or not,” he said.

There are no known cases of human deaths in India though several states have tackled outbreaks of avian influenza outbreaks over the years.

Rai said he would write to neighbouring states urging them to take necessary steps and work with the Delhi government to tackle the outbreak.

A team of experts from laboratories in Bhopal, Jalandhar and Bareilly will visit Delhi zoo on Friday, sources said.

The Delhi government also set up a 23-member committee, headed by development commissioner Sandeep Kumar, to coordinate between different departments and probe the bird deaths.

On Wednesday, six rapid response teams were formed to visit the bird sanctuaries and poultry markets. On Thursday, Rai increased their number to 10.

“The government is fully prepared to deal with the disease. Health department has sufficient stock of Tamiflu tablet to deal with any emergency,” the minister said.

The government also cancelled leaves of all officials of the animal husbandry department and appealed to residents not to touch dead birds.

Rai said the city’s chicken wholesale markets and poultry farms have been asked to inform if they found dead birds and also keep their area clean.

First Published: Oct 20, 2016 18:38 IST