As thousands of migrants continue to reach Bihar every day, as many as 170 of them have been found infected with COVID-19 in the last one week.
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And Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has sought more tests of migrants to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the State.
Samples of migrants were taken from 25 quarantine centres where mainly those coming from the red zones stay put from May 4.
The maximum number of them found COVID-19 positive are from Begusarai, Nalanda, Araria and other districts who had returned from Gujarat, Maharshatra, Delhi and others States.
Since May 1, over one lakh migrants have returned to different districts by 84 trains and an estimated 1.20 lakh are expected to reach the State next week by 86 trains.
Since the last few days, about 20,000 migrants have been returning to the State every day either by trains or by roads through six inter-State borders.
On an average, every day 16-18 trains carrying migrants have been reaching different stations from where they are taken to their respective blocks to be quarantined for 21 days.
At a review meeting with top state officials, Mr Kumar said random tests of migrants alone would not serve the purpose. He sought details of preparations in the government migrant quarantine centres. He instructed officials to provide all required amenities to the migrants in the centers and distribute soaps and masks to villagers to them as well.
The spread of COVID-19 in the State has gone to as many as 37 out of the total 38 districts. From every 1,000 tests conducted earlier, less than 2% were found positive for COVID-19. But with the arrival of a large number of migrant population, the percentage had gone up to 4.5%, which means 45 patients in 1000 tests conducted, a Health Department official said.
Till May 11, a total 36,053 tests have been conducted in six government hospitals and the autonomous Rajendra Medical Research Institute in Patna.
Officials told The Hindu that the department had a capacity to conduct about 1,800 tests every day and about 1,400-1,500 tests were being done at these seven laboratories.
On Sunday, the government allowed two private laboratories to conduct tests for anyone willing to pay the amount ranging from Rs. 1,500 to Rs. 4,500.
“Though we cannot test all the migrants landing up at the quarantine centres, those coming from the red zones and above 60 years are being tested on a priority basis”, said the officials.
Principal Health Secretary Sanjay Kumar said, “We’re also doing door to door screening and so far we’ve done screen tests of 10.4 crore people while collecting 3,849 samples of those having symptoms of flu, fever and cough”.
By April 25, the State had conducted over 16,000 tests and recorded 239 positive cases. But by May 11, the figures were 36,053 and 733, of whom over 367 have recovered. Eight Bihar Military Police (BMP)-14 personnel were found COVID-19 positive on Monday. Earlier, five of them had tested positive.
The government was grappling with the issue of providing the required facilities at the migrant quarantine centres. Officials said it had set up about 3,474 centres at block headquarters with a capacity to accommodate about 3.5 lakh migrants.
Information and Public Relation secretary Anupam Kumar said, “At present 98, 814 migrants are housed in these quarantine centres”.
Complaints at centres
However, reports of migrants complaining about lack of food, water and basic amenities have been pouring in. Videos in this regard have gone viral on social media. Migrants created ruckus at a quarantine center in Madhubani and Saharsha on Monday. Those at the centres in Banka, Nawada, Katihar, Purnea, Samastipur, Siwan and Muzaffarpur have, of late, been posting such videos. Several of them have even jumped the centres in Nawada and Katihar. Officials later said many of them were traced and brought back.