The scare over bird flu is looming large with 18 deaths of avians being reported since Friday in Delhi. In Madhya Pradesh too, eight birds have died in Gwalior zoo in the last 48 hours from infection.

Samples have been sent to Jabalpur Veterinary University for investigation and precautionary measures have been taken at the zoo in the wake of reports of bird flu from some areas of the country.

Meanwhile, National Zoological Park in Delhi, which has been closed temporarily, has reported fresh cases of deaths of pelicans. After nine birds like painted storks, pelicans and ducks died of avian influenza, the zoo was shut down on Wednesday. A team of experts from the Central Zoo Authority is carrying out inspections in the zoo, ANI reported.

Meanwhile, more than 100 samples have been collected from Okhla Bird Sanctuary, Najafgarh drain, Yamuna Biodiversity Park and Central Park, and sent to the Regional Disease Diagnostic Laboratory in Jalandhar.

The Delhi government has set up a 23-member panel to coordinate work among various departments for investigating the death of birds, IANS reported.

The panel will be headed by Development Commissioner Sandeep Kumar. The leaves of all the officials in the concerned departments have been cancelled. A helpline number (011-23890318) has been provided to inform the officials if any dead birds are spotted.

Meanwhile, Delhi’s animal husbandry minister Gopal Rai will visit the Delhi Zoo on Friday to take stock of the situation. He advised the people not to touch the dead birds and immediately inform the officials about the deaths.