No report of bird flu in Punjab; dedicate Jalandhar's NRDDL for avian influenza testing: CS

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Chandigarh, Jan 7 (PTI) Amid the bird flu scare, Punjab Chief Secretary Vini Mahajan on Thursday directed that an animal husbandry department lab in Jalandhar, which was being used for COVID-19 testing, should now be utilised for examining samples for avian influenza.

There is no report of bird flu in Punjab, but measures, like sampling and testing, have been put in place to prevent an outbreak. The state government has sounded an alert and requisite logistics and funds are available to tackle any situation, the chief secretary said.

During a review meeting here, Mahajan directed the animal husbandry department to withdraw COVID-19 testing from the Jalandhar-based Northern Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (NRDDL) and utilise facilities there for testing samples for bird flu. 'Results of suspected bird flu tests should be made available without any delay,' she said.

Additional Chief Secretary, Animal Husbandry, V K Janjua, said that the lab has a mandate to test samples of five north Indian states and three union territories and informed the chief secretary that the NRDDL has a capacity of testing 1,200 samples daily.

He said that four samples taken from ducks in Tarn Taran have been received at the lab. Earlier, Haryana had sent four samples but there was no proper outcome of results following which teams collected 57 more samples, the official said.

Two samples of birds have been received from the Sukhna Lake in Chandigarh, Janjua said, adding that only two samples of birds sent by Himachal Pradesh have tested positive till date.

The Centre has already confirmed that bird flu cases were reported across 12 epicentres in at least four states, including neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, and that Haryana is on high alert due to unusual mortality at poultry farms in Panchkula district.

Chairing the meeting of heads of 10 departments involved in the prevention and cure of such cases, the chief secretary asked the officers to remain on high alert and maintain a close vigil to detect any unusual bird death in the state.

Mahajan confirmed that so far no such case or bird death has been reported from any part of the state, and ordered stepping up of sampling, testing and surveillance of suspected bird flu cases.

The chief secretary reviewed the situation and preparedness of the state in the wake of outbreak in other states, especially neighbouring Himachal Pradesh, an official release said.

Mahajan said the state government was fully equipped and prepared to tackle any situation arising out of the avian influenza outbreak in the country and all efforts are being made to keep the state safe and secure.

She issued strict instructions to implement precautionary measures to prevent the spread of bird flu in the state.

'If any mass mortality of poultry or other birds is found, it should be immediately reported to the deputy director of the animal husbandry department in the district concerned,' the chief secretary said, while advising the department heads to aware the people against rumours. PTI VSD ANB ANB ANB