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Coronavirus | Bihar to step up testing

Ready for action: Medical personnel at the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital in Patna.   | Photo Credit: Ranjeet Kumar

Bihar with an estimated population of 123 million people has far less sample tests done for coronavirus (COVID-19) in comparison to other States but health officials said tests would be increased in days to come. The State government has also announced a “pulse polio pattern drive” like door-to-door screening of all those residing in the 3 km radius of a positive patient.

Interactive map of confirmed cases in India

According to Principal Health Secretary Sanjay Kumar, till April 16 Bihar has done 8,846 sample tests at six centres with 607 under process. “Two more positive cases came from Buxar district on Thursday. The total number of COVID-19 positive cases in Bihar has gone up to 80 with samples of six persons — two males and four females of a family — have been tested positive,” he said in a tweet.


Travel history

The two persons found positive had travel history from Asansol in West Bengal. On Thursday, eight persons whose samples were earlier tested positive, however were released from the Nalanda Medical College and Hospital (NMCH), which is designated as COVID-19 special hospital. Out of eight, six were from Siwan (the red zone hotspot district) while one each are from Gaya and Gopalgunj districts.

State Helpline numbers | State-wise tracker for coronavirus cases

“We are not at the lowest in sample testing in the country…earlier the testing was done according to Central guidelines which did not suggest taking samples of those who were asymptomatic… only those with travel history or influenza-like symptoms were to be tested but now we have started door-to-door screening and the sample tests will be increased in days to come,” Ragini Mishra, Bihar’s COVID-19 nodal officer, told The Hindu over phone.

Recovery rate

“Besides, the number of sample tests are population-based and Bihar’s rank is much above than so many other States,” said a Health department official. He added that the “COVID-19 recovery rate in Bihar is 51.30% which is much higher than several States [in India it is only 12.15 %]… similarly, the fatality rate in Bihar is 1.39% which is fifth from the bottom [in India it is 3.40%].”


Earlier, the sample tests in Bihar were done only at two places but now it is being done at six places: Rajendra Memorial Research Institute of Sciences (RMRIS), Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), Darbhanga Medical College and Hospital (DMCH), Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH), Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH-Muzaffarpur) and All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS). “Now, we are equipped to do more sample tests on a day-to-day basis… for fast results we’ve also marked which centre will do sample test from which district,” said the Health department official.

Door-to-door screening

Meanwhile, the State government has announced launch of “pulse polio pattern drive” for door-to-door screening of those residing in 3 km radius of a positive patient. “A COVID-19 positive case will be considered as the epicentre and for this two-member teams will be formed which will go door-to-door to screen everyone within a radius of 3 km, ” said Chief Secretary Deepak Kumar. “Anyone found positive during screening will immediately be quarantined and tested… Bihar will be the first State to undertake such a drive,” he added. The drive is first going to be launched from hotspot districts like Siwan, Begusarai, Nawada and Nalanda. “We expect to cover nearly 16% of the State’s population in this drive,” Mr. Sanjay Kumar said.

Experts reluctant

However, health experts and doctors appear reluctant over the success of the government’s “pulse polio pattern drive to screen COVID-19 tests.” “There is a fundamental difference between polio virus and COVID-19 virus… the polio virus was acquired through contaminated water and food while the COVID-19 virus can be acquired through just a sneeze,” Dr. S.K. Sharma said. The other doctors and health experts The Hindu spoke to over phone too raised questions over low sample tests in a populous State like Bihar. “Even 8,846 sample tests in last three weeks in a State like Bihar where lakhs of migrant workers have returned to their home districts from COVID-19 affected States like Maharashtra, Kerala and Delhi, is too low… the fact is the government lacks basic facilities to do the tests of so many people,” said a health expert on anonymity.

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Printable version | Jun 18, 2021 5:02:06 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-bihar-to-step-up-testing/article31359991.ece

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