The Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) is strengthening its response against Avian Influenza (AI) for the early termination of AI and to promote civil safety. The SMG has reported that Seoul Zoo in Seoul Grand Park, which has been temporarily closed since Dec. 17th due to the outbreak of the highly pathogenic AI, has been managed without any further outbreaks of positive cases for more than 10 days. The highly pathogenic AI cases were only found at the Stork Village of Seoul Zoo in the beginning. As of January 4, all feces and mucosal samples from birds have been tested and found to be negative.
Seoul Grand Park has set up a double barrier and a sterilizer dedicated for people who enter at Stork Village, where the AI case was detected, in order to block the spread of the disease to other birds by sterilizing the area three times per day. staff also stay and work at the zoo for one-week intervals. In addition, support personnel have been dispatched, including retired zookeepers, dieticians, curators, and taxidermists. Seoul is making all efforts to prevent and block the spread of AI.
The city has classified 29 zookeepers and veterinarians who have been in contact with infected birds as a high-risk group. They have been given Tamiflu, and are under active surveillance. In addition, the staff has been wearing protective clothing (Level D) when entering or exiting the place for infected birds and the SMG has conducted training on removing and wearing protective clothing three times for all employees of the zoo.
As a result of examining the situation of Seoul Grand Park through the mobilization of the experts in the prevention of epidemics and officials of epidemic prevention institutions, Seoul has concluded that there is no additional contagion outside the Stork Village and that the situation has entered a manageable stabilization phase. Monitoring will continue until the risk of further outbreak is completely eliminated.
The Seoul Metropolitan Government has set up specific countermeasures. If a suspicious AI patient is found, an epidemiologist will check for fever and respiratory symptoms, classify suspect cases, transfer the patient to a state-designated negative pressure isolation ward if necessary, and carry out AI tests.
In addition, Seoul will use reserve funds to purchase all chickens and ducks raised for self-consumption in order to prevent potential AI outbreaks. Purchased chickens and ducks will be used as food materials in social welfare facilities or cafeterias at autonomous district offices.
For small-scale self-employed businesses, such as a local bakeries struggling with the price hike of eggs due to the lowered supply, a management fund of less than 50 million won at the beneficial rate of 2% per annum is provided for each business.
Park Won-soon, Mayor of Seoul, said, “Although the number of AI cases is decreasing somewhat nationwide, we cannot be relieved yet. Seoul is therefore disinfecting and inspecting branches of the Hangang River such as the Jungnangcheon Stream as well as the Hangang River, a habitat of birds, several times per day.” He continued, “Citizens should also refrain from visiting wild bird habitats for the time being, avoid contact with poultry as much as possible, thoroughly wash their hands after going out, and be diligent with their personal hygiene etiquette, such as ensuring there is no spread of bacteria when coughing.”