'Curb people's movement in national parks'

The Union Environment ministry on Monday asked all states and union territories to take precautionary measures to stop the spread of coronavirus from humans to animals and restrict the movement of people in various national parks and sanctuaries after a tiger at a US zoo tested positive for COVID-19.

The ministry issued an advisory to states and UTs, saying it is concerned that there are possibilities of spread of the virus among animals in national parks and sanctuaries.

“In view of the spread of COVID-19 in the country and a recent news report on a tiger being infected with the COVID 19, it is felt that there are possibilities of spread of the virus amongst animals in National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves and also transmission of the virus from humans to animals and vice-versa.

“It is, therefore, imperative that States/UTs take immediate preventive measures to stop the transmission and spread of the virus from humans to animals and vice versa, in National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves. Reduce the human wildlife interface and restrict the movement of people to National Parks/ Sanctuaries/ Tiger Reserves,” the ministry’s letter to the states said.

It also directed chief wildlife wardens of all states and UTs to constitute a task force or a Rapid Action Force with field managers, veterinary doctors, frontline staff, to manage the situation as quickly as possible and create a ’round the clock’ reporting mechanism with a Nodal Officer for swift management of any cases noticed.

“Set up essential services for emergency treatment of animals and their safe release back to their natural habitats, as and when required. Enhance disease surveillance, mapping and monitoring system through coordinated effort amongst various Departments.

“Maintain all other stipulations issued by the Health Ministry in the movement of staff/tourists/villagers, etc. In and around National Parks/Sanctuaries/Tiger Reserves. Take other possible steps to control the spread of the virus and report the action taken to this Ministry,” it said.

The Central Zoo Authority (CZA) on Monday asked all zoos across the country to be on high alert and collect samples fortnightly in suspected cases after a tiger at a US zoo tested positive for coronavirus.