Patna: Amid positive signs of a high COVID-19 recovery rate and low mortality and positivity rate in Bihar, there are also worrying signs. More cases are now being reported from rural areas than urban areas.
According to the state Health Department’s data, of the total 3,241 active containment zones, 2473 fall in rural areas and only 768 are present in urban areas as of now. “The government has identified containment zones in the state to test, trace and treat COVID-19 patients after several people tested positive over the past few days,” said a department official who wished to remain anonymous.
According to the official, all households in containment zones are under surveillance in order to identify cases and provide people with proper treatment to combat the spread of the virus. There are about 7,16,000 houses in containment zones in rural areas, where the population is more than 37 lakh. There are a total of 3.94,663 houses in containment zones in urban areas with a total population of more than 18 lakh.
Thus, official figures suggest that more than twice the number of rural houses are under surveillance than those in urban areas. In all, there are 11,11,288 houses under surveillance in all containment zones in the state.
Reports of COVID-19 cases are now coming in from rural areas in Patna, Bhagalpur, Araria, Purnea, Katihar, Gopalganj and other districts.
Health experts said it is a matter of serious concern after the government relaxed lockdown norms in line with the Centre’s guidelines. “People in Bihar – both in urban as well as in rural areas – should take precautions like wearing masks, social distancing, hand sanitising and keep away from crowds, despite the fact that the spread of COVID-19 is lesser as compared to other states. After the lockdown was relaxed, people were seen in large numbers outside in public places and intermixing without taking precautions,” said Dr. Sanjeev Kumar, nodal officer for COVID-19 at AIIMS, Patna.
Dr. Vaibhav Shandilya, a senior resident doctor of the government-run Patna Medical College and Hospital said while COVID-19 cases have declined in the state, the virus is still around. “Neglecting precautions will prove to be dangerous for all. The lockdown was relaxed for the benefit of people and they should understand their responsibility as well,” he added.
Dr. Manoj Kumar Sinha, another senior doctor, said there was no doubt that the positivity rate of COVID-19 is very low in the state, but added that people have to take precautions to protect others.
The government claimed that the recovery rate in Bihar is 89.29%, more than the national average of 77.65%, while the positivity rate also remained the lowest in the country with 0.9%. The number of deaths per million people is six and the case growth rate is at 1.3% against the national average of 2.14 %.
Bihar Health Secretary Lokesh Kumar Singh maintained that the number of COVID-19 cases are declining as testing has increased in the state. He said that on August 15, Bihar had reported 3,536 new cases and on September 10, the state reported 1,543 new cases.
Bihar has been testing between one lakh and 1.5 lakh samples every day since earlier this month. As per official data, Bihar tested 1,12,199 lakh samples on September 10, 1,22,121 lakh samples on September 9, 1,52,671 lakh samples on September 8,1,53,156 samples on September 7, 1,51,033 samples on September 6, 1,50,483 samples on September 5,1,50,195 samples on September 4 and 1,40,931 samples on September 3.
Most of these tests were conducted with rapid antigen detection kits. Reports claim that Bihar has been conducting less than 10% of the total COVID-19 tests using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) kits.
As of now, Bihar has conducted more than 46 lakh tests.
According to the official Twitter handle of the Health Department, Bihar had 1,710 new cases on September 11, taking the total number of cases in the state to 1,55,445 with 789 deaths. The number of active COVID-19 cases were 17,388.