Odisha says no fear of bird flu or coronavirus in state

Bhubaneswar, Jan 30 (PTI) Dealing with the twin issues of avian influenza or bird flu and novel coronavirus, the Odisha government on Thursday said there is nothing to panic as the administration has taken adequate measures to tackle any threat.

No human being has so far either been infected to the avian influenza or the novel coronavirus (nCoV), said health and family welfare secretary N B Dhal.

The steps have been taken to avoid spread of bird flu in the state as per the guidelines of both the Central government as well as the World Health Oraganisation (WHO), he said.

Dhal, however, said two persons came forward and informed the government that they returned to Odisha from China via Malaysia.

'There are no such nCoV symptoms in these two persons. We have advised them home isolation and keeping vigil on their health status for 15 days,' he said.

The health and family welfare secretary through a video conferencing earlier in the day informed the Centre about the situation in the state.

'Till date, no person in Odisha has been detected with coronavirus. If any such case comes to the notice, the blood samples will be sent to National Institute of Virology (NIV) in Pune for a test,' he said.

A three-member central team Thursday visited the Odisha University of Agriculture and Technology poultry farm, the epicenter of the avian influenza which was confirmed three days ago.

'There has been a bird flu outbreak in OUAT. We have seen the measures being taken by the state government. Everything is as per the standard operation procedure and guidelines of the WHO. The situation is very much under control and nothing to panic over bird flu,' said Debashish Bhattacharya, a member of the central team.

He said while the officials of the animal husbandry are engaged in culling of birds within one kilometer of the OUAT poultry farm and disinfecting the area, the health officials are undertaking health screening of the people within the three kilometer from the infected area.

'All the activities are being carried out as per protocol,' Bhattrachrya said.

Odisha's Director of Public Health, Ajit Mohanty, said the bird culling operation has almost been completed and officials are engaged in disinfection activities.

He said the central team will remain in Bhubaneswar for 10 more days to oversee the measures being taken by the state administration.

As per the guidelines, the health screening of the local people living within three kilometers need to be done on daily basis. There is provision of such screening of people residing between 3 km to 10 km twice a week.

Dhal, however, said there was no such history of human being infected in H5N1 virus from animals in the country.

'Still, according to protocol, we are screening the health condition of the people living in the bird flu hit areas,' Dhal said.

Stating that only one of the 14,000 blood samples so far collected in the state tested positive to the H5N1 virus, Fisheries and Animal Resources Development Secretary R Raghu Prasad said, 'It has been decided that the samples of chickens within 3-10 km radius of OUAT will also be collected and sent to National Institute of High Security Animal Diseases in Bhopal.' The Rapid Response Teams (RRTs) will conduct a survey in these areas twice a week, he added.

Earlier, a report received from High Security Animal Disease Laboratory (HSADL) in Bhopal had confirmed presence of H5N1 virus in poultry farm of OUAT.

The excreta samples collected from the bird sanctuary in Chilika lake and Bhitarkanika national park were sent to Bhopal laboratory for confirmation of possible bird flu. PTI AAM AQS