Covid-19: Centre issues advisory to national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves

Our Bureau Bengaluru | Updated on April 06, 2020

As news of the tiger getting infected by coronavirus or Covid-19 in Bronx Zoo in New York became viral, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) sprung into action and issued an advisory to all national parks, sanctuaries, tiger reserves across the country to observe for symptoms consistent with the virus — respiratory signs of nasal discharge, coughing and laboured breathing.

India is having maximum number of tigers in wild and some in captivity. The incident in the US is said to be the first known case in the world, which has shook both the animal lovers and people working in conservation sphere.

The MOEF, along with Dr Vaibhav C Mathur, Assistant inspector General of Forests, NTCA, immediately issued an advisory to all chief wildlife wardens saying, , all tiger-range States, with Dr Vaibhav C Mathur, Assistant inspector General of Forests (NTCA) coming out with an advisory and said “I am directed to inform that owing to the communicable and zoonotic nature of the said disease, following actions need to be taken to avert the disease in wild tigers in India.”

The advisory mandated that tigers should be observed for symptoms consistent with Covid-19 through direct observation to the extent possible besides through camera trap images for visible symptoms. It should be ensured that the personnel handling tigers be ascertained to be coronavirus negative.

Diligence needs to be exercised while handling post-mortem cases to record location, age and sex of the animal, while collecting samples for coronavirus diagnosis in consultation with the State Veterinary officials while safeguarding oneself through appropriate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE).

As coronavirus is known to affect gastrointestinal system in felines, requisite correlation may be made for characterising the virus type in consultation with the State Veterinary Department. Differential diagnosis with feline infectious rhino-tracheitis needs to be made as similar respiratory symptoms may be observed.

Finally, for Covid-19 diagnosis as well as differential diagnoses and characterisation as highlighted above, samples may be sent to ICAR approved laboratories as per enclosure.

Published on April 06, 2020

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