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Environment Ministry issues advisory regarding containment of COVID-19 in national parks, tiger reserves

The Union Environment Ministry has issued an advisory regarding containment of COVID-19 in national parks, tiger reserves and sanctuaries.

Apr 7, 2020 12:54 IST
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The Union Environment Ministry has issued an advisory regarding containment of COVID-19 in national parks, tiger reserves and sanctuaries. The move follows the recent news report of a four-year-old tiger being infected with coronavirus in New York’s Bronx Zoo. 

The positive test result of the tiger in the United States has raised the fears and possibilities of the spread of the virus among sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves. It has also raised the fear of transmission of COVID-19 from humans to animals and vice versa. 

To contain and manage the same, the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has issued an advisory to the Chief Wildlife Wardens of all states and union territories:

The advisory orders the Chief Wildlife Wardens to:

Take immediate preventive measures to stop transmission and spread of COVID-19 from humans to animals and vice versa in national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves. 

Set up a task force, rapid action force with field managers, veterinary doctors, frontline staff and to manage the situation swiftly. 

Restrict movement of people in national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves and reduce human-wildlife interface.

Set up essential services for emergency treatment of animals and their safe release back to their natural habitats.

Constitute a 24x7 reporting mechanism with a Nodal Officer for swift management of cases, as and when noticed.

Augment disease surveillance, mapping and monitoring system through coordinated effort amongst various departments.

Maintain all other conditions issued by the Health Ministry in the movement of staff, villagers and tourists in and around National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves.

Take all possible steps to control the spread of the virus and report all actions taken to the Environment Ministry. 

Central Zoo Authority asks all zoos to stay alert

The Central Zoo Authority of India has advised all the zoos in India to be on highest alert and monitor animals 24X7 using CCTV to detect any abnormal behavior or symptoms. The authority has also urged keepers and handlers to not enter the vicinity of the animals without wearing safety gear preferably PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) and have the least contact while feeding animals and swiftly isolate and quarantine sick animals.

The advisory stated that carnivores animals such as cat, ferret and primates should be carefully monitored and samples of suspect cases should be taken fortnightly and sent to the designated animal health institutes to initiate COVID-19 testing. This should be done keeping in line with all bio-containment and safety measures required to handle such high-risk pathogen, as suggested in the ICMR guidelines. 

The designated animal health institutes include:

1. Centre for Animal Disease Research and Diagnostic, Indian Veterinary Research Institute, (IVRI) Bareilly, UP.

2. National Institute of High-Security Animal Disease, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh

3. National Research Centre on Equines, Hisar, Haryana.

Further, the Central Zoo Authority has also advised all zoo personnel to strictly follow the safety and disinfection protocol issued by the Government on novel coronavirus infection. The zoos have been advised to coordinate with designated nodal agencies of the Government that are responsible for the public health response. 

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