As of 3.45 pm today, Bihar’s corona toll has reached 27,646 cases with 17,535 recoveries and 217 deaths. There has been 191 new cases today. While everyone is so focussed on the surges of the virus in major metro cities, Bihar is now slowly becoming a hotspot. There has been no proper testing and the facilities provided in hospitals are inadequate, according to the videos surfacing on social media. Reportedly, a patient died at a hospital as he couldn’t be provided with oxygen cylinder on time, in Katihar. To examine the same, a central team of three member led by Joint secretary Lav Agarwal visited Bihar on 19th June to assess the preparedness of the state with respect to the pandemic. The Nitish Kumar government is under the scanner for mismanagement of the situation.
With lakhs of migrant workers returning home, there has been a severe spike in the number of cases in the state in the past three weeks. A lockdown was imposed on 16th July and will continue till the 31st of the month. The situation is grim as two ministers and several MLAs are also infected among the others. What is more alarming is the recovery rate, which is at 33%, much lower than the national average. If reports are to be believed, the testing for virus in the state, is not optimal at all. The concerns of the state doesn’t stop here as they are faced with a bunch of problems while dealing with the COVID situation.
The situation in Patna and Bhagalpur
These two are the worst hit districts with Patna standing at 3,696 cases with 28 deaths and Bhagalpur standing at 1601 cases with 16 deaths. The chances of these two turning into one of the country’s hotspots is very high. But amidst these numbers, the hospitals here are also struggling with staff shortage and inadequate infrastructure.
Not enough doctors
The hospitals are now inn need of junior doctors dedicated only to treat COVID patients. Many junior doctors have resigned since the pandemic situation arose. The doctors themselves have become helpless as in spite of working their best, patients are still complaining. In the Supaul district, a clip of a doctor commuting to a COVID care hospital on a thela (lawn cart) has attracted attention. The doctor, Amarinder Kumar said “We currently have 2 COVID-19 positive patients. Because the area is flooded with water, the patients are treated on the first floor, we have to travel in and out of the hospital on thelas.””Even patients, when they are supposed to be taken in or out, are taken through the thelas. Ambulance is gone right now so we have no option but to use thelas,” to India TV.
Patients aren’t happy with their treatment
As already mentioned, there has been a shortage of medical staff in the state which has led to a poor quality of care to the patients. Apparently, the toilets are unsanitary and dirty and there is no one monitoring the patients. The oxygen cylinders aren’t available in an ample amount. It has become a tedious task to even get oneself tested for the virus, let alone get a bed and proper treatment.
A demand for 15-day break for medical workers
More than 200 healthcare workers are infected by the virus and two of them have died, in the state. Owing to the risks associated, the Bihar branch of Indian Medical Association has demanded that the corona warriors should be tested every fortnight and they should be given a mandatory 15 days break. This would make the already bad situation of shortage of medical staff even worse.
Monsoon and Elections
The monsoons will worsen the situation as it will lead to huge floods which might increase the risk of infection. Assembly elections are also slated to happen in October and November. If not conducted in a safe and efficient manner, the event may also contribute to the spread of virus. Opposition parties are writing to the election commission to consider an alternate approach to ensure the safety of voters.
Political blame game
As always, the opposition hasn’t shied away from blaming the ruling party. RJD leader, Tejashwi Yadav has said “Nitishji is playing havoc with the lives of 12.6 crores Biharis. To avoid bad press, he is suppressing data. Is your image more important than the lives of our people, Mr Chief Minister”, he asked. To which JDU leader, Neeraj Kumar replied saying “Corona is a pandemic and people of Bihar knows that it is a difficult situation. The state government is sensitive to the issue (COVID-19) and is taking all measures to curb the infection. The doctors and health workers are putting their lives at risk to save people. But you (Tejashwi) can’t see it,”.
This just isn’t the case in Bihar, in every other state, the opposition is blaming the ruling parties for the COVID mismanagement. True the opposition’s task is to call out the ruling party when it makes a mistake, but when we in the middle of a global pandemic, wouldn’t it be nice if the collective focus was on dealing with the crisis properly with team efforts rather than blame game?
After the visit by the Central team, it is announced that Bihar will now do more antigen testing. Testing kits are said to be available at all subdivision hospitals from today and at every primary healthcare centre by next week. Let us hope that more infrastructural help is provided to Bihar by both the state and central government and the state will be able to contain the infection as much as possible. An effort should be made by the government, citizens and healthcare professionals of the state to turn around the COVID situation in their state.
– Jahnavi TR