Patna: Amid rising cases of COVID-19 in Bihar, sanitation workers, and nursing staff of All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) Patna went on strike on Saturday to protest against the non-payment of their salaries for the past two months. The strike has affected the ongoing treatment of hundreds of COVID-19 patients at AIIMS Patna.
Earlier this week, AIIMS Patna was designated as a COVID-19 hospital by the state government. It has become one of the four government-run hospitals to be designated as COVID-19 hospitals in Bihar.
Striking workers and staff alleged that neither they nor their family members have been allowed admission or treatment at AIIMS Patna despite them working day and night since after the outbreak of the pandemic.
Authorities at the AIIMS Patna have requested the striking sanitation workers and nursing staff to return to work and have assured payment of their pending salaries soon.
According to reports, AIIMS Patna has become a hub for the VIP patients of COVID-19 in the past one week as the majority of the isolation beds and ICU beds with ventilator facility have been occupied by ruling NDA leaders, ministers, MPs, MLAs, bureaucrats, judges, and businessmen. Local media have reported that common people have been refused admission for the COVID-19 treatment at the hospital in the past few days.
“In the last few days, there has been a rush of COVID patients and we have decided to increase the number of beds in the coming days,” Dr Sanjeev Kumar, the AIIMS Patna nodal officer for COVID, said.
Meanwhile, the number of COVID-19 positive cases has doubled in 10 days in Bihar.
As per official data available with the state Health Department, on July 8, there were 13,274 positive cases in the state, which then rose to 24,967 cases on July 17. Going by these numbers, on an average, about 1077 new cases have been reported each day.
Bihar reported 1,742 cases on Friday, which was the highest single-day spike till date. Earlier, the highest single-day spike was 1,432 cases on July 14.
A day after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked the concerned authorities to double the number of COVID tests from 10,000 to 20,000 per day, Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Medical Sciences (RMRIMS), a government-run test facility approved by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) was shut on Friday for three days after some laboratory staff members were tested positive. The Patna based RMRIMS was testing 2,000 to 2,500 samples per day.
Bihar had tested 10,000 samples for the first time on July 14 despite the fact that CM Nitish Kumar had on May 13 instructed officials to scale up testing to 10,000 samples a day.
The Indian Medical Association (IMA), Bihar has already expressed its unhappiness over the acute shortage of staff including doctors and poor infrastructure at the government-run hospitals, which increases the risk of doctors getting infected.
Bihar Opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav on Saturday attacked Nitish Kumar for his failure in controlling the spread of the virus and accused him of manipulating the figures.
"In Bihar, the highest single-day surge of 2,226 new cases, with a positivity rate of 21.7% (highest in India), was recorded. To avoid making it to the headlines, the Chief Minister hid the actual figures and published half another day," Tejashwi said.
"Nitish ji is playing 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 questioned.
A high-level Central team is expected to reach Bihar on July 19 to coordinate with the state government and to work out a strategy to contain the further spread of COVID-19.
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