Nepal declares one part of capital as 'bird flu emergency zone'

Kathmandu, Aug. 15 (Xinhua-ANI): Amid new cases of bird flu emerging almost every day for the past one month, Nepal has declared Bhaktapur, one of the three districts of Kathmandu valley, as the emergency zone, said officials on Thursday.

A decision to this effect was taken in a meeting held between government officials and the poultry farmers on Wednesday evening, to be executed from Thursday onward, according to Narayan Ghimire, the government's spokesperson for bird flu control campaign.

"Bird flu could not be controlled even after several attempts including chicken trade ban. Announcing Bhaktapur as an emergency zone was, therefore, inevitable," Ghimire told Xinhua.

Under an emergency zone situation, all fowls including chicken, duck and pigeon, will be destroyed along with their eggs, feed and excreta and the fowls' farms will be cleaned and disinfected.

The emergency zone situation remains active for at least three months. During this period, fowls cannot be transported and supplied to and from Bhaktapur and no one can keep new fowls. The sales of chicken and other fowl meat will also be banned.

As for compensating the loss of poultry business, the government will give first priority to small poultry farmers, said spokesperson Ghimire, adding that the amount of compensation will be fixed later.

To materialize the emergency zone plan, the Ministry of Agriculture has formed a Rapid Response Team, which has been mobilized to cull all the fowls and disinfect Bhaktapur from bird flu. "We have an estimate that some 500,000 fowls will be culled this time around," said Ghimire.

Since the beginning of new fiscal year on July 16, Bhaktapur alone has witnessed more than 40 cases of bird flu in 30 days, while the remaining two districts of Lalitpur and Kathmandu have reported at least 10 cases.

In this way, the total bird flu cases in the Nepali capital have crossed 50 in a short span of time, thus creating scare of health hazards among the locals. A bird flu case was first reported in Nepal in January 2009. Since then, its recurrence has been witnessed time and again. (Xinhua-ANI)