Centre rushes teams to NE, Ori: Poor health scenario in WB, Minister

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New Delhi, Jan 20 (UNI) The Centre today said it was rushing health teams to Orissa and Northeastern states for an on-the-spot assessment following the outbreak of Bird Flu in West Bengal, even as Union Minister of State for Health Panabakka Lakshmi lamented the ''pathetic health scenario'' in WB.

The Bird Flu situation has resulted in the culling of 1,21,908 poultry birds and destruction of 68,972 eggs in West Bengal in the past few days.

One joint team of the Health Ministry and the Department of Animal Husbandry have already been dispatched to Jharkhand and Bihar, an official statement said here.

The move came in the wake of samples sent from Bankura, Nadia, Birbhum and Murshidabad districts of West Bengal testing positive for Bird Flu at the HSADL lab at Bhopal.

Besides the culling, Bird Flu had claimed 98,254 poultry birds in the districts of Birbhum, Dakshin Dinajpur, Murshidabad, Nadia, South 24 Parganas, Burdwan and Bankura (all in West Bengal).

Talking to UNI in Bolepur in West Bengal after paying a surprise visit to the Bolepur Sub-Divisional Hospital and Primary Health Centre, Ms Laksmi expressed serious concern over the ''pathetic health scenario'' in West Bengal and alleged that the poor people were deprived of proper health care facilities.

''Despite the Centre extending all possible cooperation in tackling the situation as well as providing masks, ventilators and other necessary equipment to contain the disease, the West Bengal government has failed to handle the alarming crisis created by the outbreak of Avian Influenza.'' Ms Lakshmi alleged that the condition of the isolated wards in which the affected patients were being treated, and which she had personally overseen, was ''abject''.

Meanwhile, unofficial reports received from various parts of the state said a few birds had died of unnatural causes at Habra, Bilkanda and Bongaon areas of North 24 Parganas district.

However, no official confirmation was yet received on whether the areas were declared Bird Flu-hit.

The Jharkhand government has sealed the borders of its nine districts and constituted a high-level committee to monitor the situation following the deadly Avian flu in West Bengal.

Official sources said the committee, headed by Chief Secretary P P Sharma, yesterday decided to seal borders of Ranchi, Singhbhum, Chaibasa, Dhanbad, Bokaro, Dumka, Jamtara, Pakur and Sahebganj with the neighbouring West Bengal.

However, they said there were no reports of bird-flu in the state so far.

In Uttar Pradesh, the Forest department at Siddharthnagar has sounded an alert in Bakhira Bird Sanctuary to prevent the spread of the epidemic.

Sanctuary's in-charge D K Lal said, ''Birds were being kept under observation these days, Siberian birds had migrated here, who would return to their home at the end of winter season.'' There were no reports of the disease in the state. However, District Magistrates in the state have been asked to carry out regular check-ups in the poultry farms, belonging to both government as well as private owners.

The Andaman and Nicobar administration has imposed a total ban on the import of poultry and poultry products from Kolkata.

In an official order, it also restricted all Airlines and ships from importing poultry products with immediate effect.

In Jammu and Kashmir, more than 300 samples taken for determining the presence of bird flu tested negative, authorities said.

Though no case of bird flu was reported from any part of the state,, the authorities have taken all measures to prevent transportation of any such virus into the state, official sources said.

Meanwhile in Tamil Nadu, Union Health Minister Anbumani Ramadoss allayed fears of the people saying there was no chance of the dreaded Bird flu hitting the state.

There was no need for any panic regarding Avian flu in the state. ''All necessary steps have been taken to prevent the spread of Bird flu in West Bengal'', he told reporters on the sidelines of a function.

According to reports from Kancheepuram in Tamil Nadu, the detection of 300 dead chickens packed in three gunny bags and dumped near a crematorium sparked fears of Bird Flu. The District Collector has ordered an inquiry into the incident.

Sources said the gunny bags were found on a small bridge in Chinna Kancheepuram.

UNI Team HS RS1911

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