Brits warned to stay ‘at least two metres’ away from birds amid fears of next pandemic

By Staff 5 Min Read

Government guidelines issued by the UK Heath Security Agency say people should “keep your distance from wild birds as much as possible – aim to stay at least 2 metres away if you can”

Brits are being urged to socially distance themselves from wild birds and stay at least two metres away from them amid fears of a new pandemic.

Government guidelines issued on Tuesday by the UK Heath Security Agency, which came into existence during the Covid-19 pandemic, state members of the public should be “minimising contact’ with birds in order to prevent catching diseases.

The guidelines says people should “keep your distance from wild birds as much as possible – aim to stay at least 2 metres away if you can”. The advice, created with help from the RSPCA and Animal and Plant Health Agency, says people should also steer clear of animal droppings and dead birds.

Avian influenza – or bird flu – is a risk to human health because it can infect and cause severe disease in people, although this is uncommon. The subtype G5N1 is an emerging virus that is causing global concern as it’s considered a potential pandemic threat.

The UKHSA warning reads: If you decide that you need to handle a wild bird, there are some steps which you can follow to reduce the risks:

  • keep the bird outside – do not bring it into your house or an enclosed space
  • wear clothing that will stop you being injured by scratches or bites (trousers and long sleeves) and disposable gloves and eye protection (for example, goggles or glasses).
  • wash clothing and eye protection after use
  • dispose of gloves by putting them in a plastic bag, tying a knot in the bag and then placing in an outside bin
  • if possible, wear a surgical face mask or a multi-layered cloth face covering (which should be washed after use)
  • if you take the bird to a vet or animal welfare organisation or similar, phone ahead and follow their instructions about taking the bird to them
  • if you take the bird in a vehicle, put it as far from you as possible in secure ventilated box, and keep the windows open while travelling
  • dispose of any disposable items that have or may have been contaminated by the bird, by putting in a bag, sealing the bag and disposing in your outdoor bin.
  • use disinfectant wipes to clean any surfaces that cannot be disposed of that have or may have been contaminated by the bird

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