India has now confirmed bird flu cases in 10 states namely, Kerala, Rajasthan, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Haryana, Gujarat, Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, and Maharashtra, and Uttarakhand. In a statement released yesterday by the centre, stress was placed upon increased surveillance around water bodies, live bird markets, zoos, and poultry farms as well as proper disposal of the carcass to prevent the disease spread.

The department of animal husbandry and dairying has further been asked to communicate and coordinate with the health authorities to monitor the disease status and prevent any chances of human transmission. Similarly, states have been asked to maintain an adequate store of PPE kits used for carrying out the operations, all the while spreading awareness regarding avian influenza to prevent misinformation and resultant panic.

Meanwhile, with the outbreak of bird flu in its provinces, China has imposed a ban on the import of poultry and related products from France wherein the outbreak of influenza was recently reported. The ban was effective starting January 5th 2021. Earlier a restriction had also been placed on the import of poultry from Ireland. The Chinese General Administration of Customs and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, in a joint statement, urged the customs and control agencies for animal disease prevention to take strict measures against any such imports.

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The live poultry markets of China have been held responsible time and again for the spread of highly pathogenic avian influenza. Wet markets where live birds, wild animals, amphibians, and reptiles are sold for meat, are also believed to be the source of the covid-19 outbreak. While China has repeatedly denied any connection of covid-19 to their wet markets, the Wuhan wet market, the alleged source of the outbreak, has been sealed since the emergence of covid.

As the various theories emerge as to the source of spread, a World Health Organization (WHO) expert team is expected to arrive in China on Thursday, January 14th, to trace the origins of the covid-19 outbreak. The team will be visiting Wuhan, where the virus was first reported. While China has released a statement that it is going to be fully cooperative with WHO and the international experts to trace the origin, the repeated delays in finalizing the arrangements for investigation have raised criticisms.

The 10-member team will be reportedly quarantined for 14 days on arrival, after which they will begin their probe. This comes amid Beijing being under lockdown due to emerging cases of covid-19. As per the WHO officials, it is unlikely that they will gather definitive conclusions into the origins from the first visit as it still remains uncertain as to how much access they will be granted.

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