Indian cricketer Shikhar Dhawan's recent outing in Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh has seemingly created a stir on social media and outside after Dhawan was seen recently seen feeding birds during a boat ride in the city.
Sharing a photo from the trip, Dhawan wrote: "Happiness is feeding birds."
While fans were excited to see him in their backyard, others promptly reminded Dhawan of the bird flu scare that has been confirmed in at least six states of India.
"Be careful, bird flu is on the rise," wrote many. "Bird flu is spreading, don't share photos, sir."
But it wasn't just limited to fans warning the cricketer against the new menace in the world that is already down with coronavirus pandemic.
Two boatmen were fined in Varanasi as Dhawan’s picture of feeding birds on the boat went viral on social media. The district administration has challaned both the boatmen and has banned the operation of their boats till further orders. The Indian cricketer was in Varanasi on 20th January when he took a boat ride and fed the Siberian birds, which was banned by the district administration.
The Varanasi District Magistrate has imposed a ban on feeding grain to Siberian birds along the ghats due to bird flu. Despite this, the photo of Shikhar Dhawan feeding food to Siberian birds went viral, after which the boatmen who operated the boat at Dashashwamedh police station in Varanasi were fined.
Meanwhile, the outbreak of bird flu or avian influenza has been confirmed in 'poultry birds' in six states -- Kerala, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Chhattisgarh and Punjab. In India, bird flu is spread mainly by migratory birds coming into the country during winter months between September and March.
In a statement, the FSSAI said it has issued the guidance document titled 'Safe handling, processing and consumption of poultry meat and eggs during bird flu outbreak' suggesting precautions to be taken at retail meat shops, and by consumers and those hanlding/ processing poultry meat.
According to the regulator, bird flu is an infection caused by avian influenza viruses. These flu viruses occur naturally among birds. Wild birds worldwide carry the viruses in their intestines, but usually do not get sick from them. However, bird flu is very contagious among birds and can make some domesticated birds, including chicken and ducks, very sick and kill them.
Suggesting major "dos and don'ts", the FSSAI advised consumers not to eat half-boiled eggs and undercooked chicken and also not keep raw meat in open as well as not have direct contact with raw meat. It also said that people should not have direct contact with birds in the infected areas, avoid touching dead birds with bare hands and use mask/ gloves at the time of handling raw chicken.