New Delhi, Oct 20: 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.
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.
Giving details, Delhi's Animal Husbandry Minister Gopal Rai said the total number of deaths of migratory birds in the capital since last week had touched 18.
"We are trying our level best to control the situation before it gets bad. For now, citizens need not worry and just be careful and alert," Rai said.
"Reports of dead birds have come from various areas including Sundar Nagar, Tughlakabad and Deer Park. Deer Park has been closed for reasons of safety," Rai said, adding he will visit the park on Friday at 2 p.m.
"I appeal to the citizens not to touch any dead bird and to instead inform the Animal Husbandry Department on the Helpline," he added.
The government fears that the deaths may be due to H5 influenza virus which causes avian or bird flu.
Rai said 50 samples from the zoo, various bird sanctuaries in the city and poultry markets in Delhi had been sent to labs for analysis.
Both the Delhi zoo, closed on Tuesday, and the Deer Park will remain shut until normalcy returns.
On Wednesday, the Delhi government announced a Helpline (011-2389 0318) to report cases of bird flu and seek help.
Rai said he would write to the concerned ministers of neighbouring states urging them to take precautionary steps and to coordinate with the Delhi government in its attempts to curb the outbreak.
The Delhi government has set up a 23-member committee to coordinate work among various departments and to probe the reasons behind the bird deaths since last week.
The committee will be headed by Development Commissioner Sandeep Kumar.
On Wednesday, Rai set up six rapid response teams to visit various places including bird sanctuaries and poultry markets. On Thursday, Rai increased their number to 10.
All leave in the concerned departments have been cancelled.
The first deaths of two migratory birds were reported on October 14 in the Delhi Zoo, where six more birds were found dead the next day. One more bird each died on October 17 and 19.
Samples of the eight birds were sent to a lab in Jalandhar and to Bhopal, which confirmed the presence of H5 influenza virus.