Other States

COVID-19: Testing lowest in Bihar among 19 States, says NITI Aayog CEO

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. File

NITI Aayog CEO Amitabh Kant. File   | Photo Credit: PTI

In Bihar, where over 25 lakh migrant workers have returned from other States due to the lockdown, testing for COVID-19 has been the lowest among 19 States of the country, even lower than the neighbouring States of Jharkhand and Uttar Pradesh.

According to data shared by Amitabh Kant, CEO of NITI Aayog, on his Twitter handle on July 4, Bihar stands lowest among 19 States with regard to testing.

The data says Bihar has been conducting 2,197 tests per million while Delhi, at the top in the chart, is doing 32,863 tests per million followed by Andhra Pradesh with 18,597 per million, Tamil Nadu with 16,663 tests per million and Assam with 13, 471 tests per million.

Even smaller States like Jharkhand with 4,416 per million and Telangana with 2,637 per million are doing more tests than Bihar. The neighbouring state of Uttar Pradesh, as per the chart, is doing 3, 798 tests per million.

“The high tests per million being undertaken now in Delhi must be emulated by other States. This is critical. States must be judged on testing. We can succeed against #Covid-19 only with 3T strategy of testing, tracing & treating. This is the moment to act, and to act fast”, tweeted Mr. Kant.

The doctor-population ratio in Bihar too is among lowest in the country with one doctor (allopathic) for a population of 28,391 and one hospital bed per 8,645 people.

However, the Bihar government has claimed to have ramped up its testing capacity from about 2,352 tests per day to 7,000-8,000 every day. Chief Minister Nitish Kumar had earlier asked health officials to go for test 15,000 samples per day.

Bihar’s total testing capacity includes tests done on real-time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), Truenat and cartridge based nucleic acid amplification (CB-NAAT). Bihar has nine labs for conducting RT-PCR tests, including three in the private sector, and has mobile units to conduct Truenat test in all the districts.

Of late, two of the testing labs at Patna Medical College and Hospital (PMCH) and Rajendra Memorial Research Institute (RMRI) were shut for three days after some health workers tested COVID-19 positive.

They resumed testing on Monday.

Several doctors, health workers and officials of the State too have tested positive in the last two weeks.

“We’re increasing our testing capacities and the number of cases in the State is rising because we’re testing more…but in coming days we’ll test even more so that there will be no missing cases”, said a senior Health Department official seeking anonymity.

However, some private doctors of the State The Hindu spoke to said that in “Bihar the infection rate is low as the testing is low…when testing will reach 20,000 or more per day, the real situation in the State will come out”.

Meanwhile, the National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC) officials in the State recently complained to the State government about the reluctance of private hospitals in Patna to admit patients who tested positive for COVID-19 or having symptoms of the disease.

In a letter addressed to the Principal Secretary (Health) on July 3, the NTPC Regional Executive Director (East II), Asit Kumar Mukherjee had sought the government’s intervention into the matter.

“Your kind intervention is solicited for issuing necessary direction to private hospitals…this will give confidence to our employees, involved in maintaining the essential service round the clock,” said Mr. Mukherjee in his letter.

NTPC spokesman Vishwanath Chandan said that five family members of employees of the company stationed across Bihar had tested positive.

However, in April a circular was issued by the Principal Secretary (Health) warning private hospitals, nursing homes and diagnostic centres for strict penal action if found shut or refusing admission to patients.

“The private hospitals in Patna even refuses to touch the patients having symptoms of cold, cough and fever…admitting them into the hospital will be out of thinking”, said Manoj Kumar, a Patna-based salesman who was having these symptoms a week back.

Bihar, so far, has reported 97 deaths and 12,140 positive cases and 9,014 recoveries. A total of 2,64,109 samples have been tested, said the State Health Department bulletin. “The recovery rate in the State till Monday has been 74.25%,” it said.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 4:57:43 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/covid-19-testing-lowest-in-bihar-among-19-states-says-niti-aayog-ceo/article32010642.ece

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