Patna: With the recovery rate of COVID-19 cases decreasing day by day in Bihar, fear has gripped the state as a BJP MLC, a civil surgeon and personal assistant of a Bihar minister were among the 11 people who died due to the coronavirus in the last twenty-four hours.
Apart from Bihar’s poor health infrastructure, negligence of the COVID-19 designated government-run hospitals and apathy of the top officials in ramping up testing have worried doctors and health experts.
As per the official data, as on July 21, there were 28,564 positive cases in the state with 211 deaths. The doubling rate of cases is 12 days.
In the last 25 days, the recovery rate has reported a decline of nearly 13%.
Though at present Bihar’s recovery rate is more than the national recovery rate of 63.12%, health department officials apprehend that it may go down below the national average if measures are not taken to contain the fast spread of the virus and to provide timely proper treatment to critical patients.
“Until recently, the Bihar government spoke about the higher recovery rate in the state, but that is no longer true. It may decline further in view of reported conditions at the hospitals that expose poor health infrastructure and lack of seriousness to fight COVID-19,” said Dr Shakeel, a health activist based in Patna.
A senior health department official, on the condition of anonymity, said, “This is an alarming sign. A higher recovery rate was projected by the government as something of an achievement amid surging COVID-19 cases until the first week of July when the testing rate was less than 9,000 samples per day.”
Similarly, Sanjay Kumar, a government official, said the recovery rate—an important indicator—should have increased and not decreased.
BJP MLC Sunil Kumar Singh died due to COVID-19 at AIIMS Patna on July 21 after battling the disease for days. Singh has become the first politician in Bihar to succumb to the pandemic.
Rati Raman Jha, a civil surgeon from Samastipur district, also died at AIIMS Patna due to COVID-19. He is the first surgeon and third doctor to have died due to the infection in Bihar.
Ajit Kumar Sinha, PA of the Rural Affairs Minister Shailesh Kumar, breathed his last in AIIMS on Tuesday.
According to officials, about 30 doctors are undergoing treatment at AIIMS Patna after being infected. Nearly half a dozen are in critical condition.
After a three-member high-level Central team visited Bihar on July 19, it had suggested that the state government increase testing capacity and the number of beds in the hospitals, improve its patient pick-up system via ambulances, etc. The government started rapid antigen testing in all 38 districts from July 21. “The government decided to test all people in high-risk containment zones across the state and health workers have been assigned to closely monitor the condition of asymptomatic COVID-19 patient in home isolation,” secretary of Health Department, Lokesh Kumar Singh, said.
The central team has reportedly expressed unhappiness over the condition and management of COVID-19 designated hospitals in Patna and Gaya districts.
District magistrate Kumar Ravi on Sunday mandated private hospitals to reserve 20 to 25% of beds for COVID patients, which translates to 290 beds in 18 private hospitals in Patna. This is the first time that the government has ordered private hospitals to provide treatment to COVID-19 patients.
However, five days after Chief Minister Nitish Kumar asked the concerned authorities to double the number of COVID tests from 10,000 to 20,000 per day, Bihar tested 10,303 samples on July 21.
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. Bihar Opposition including Left parties continued to target Nitish Kumar for his failure in controlling the spread of the virus and accused him of manipulating the figures.