Death toll in Muzaffarpur due to encephalitis rises to 104

Bihar schools to remain shut till June 24 as heatwaves, separately, claim 90 lives

June 17, 2019 10:50 pm | Updated 10:58 pm IST - Patna

Children showing symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome being treated at a hospital. File

Children showing symptoms of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome being treated at a hospital. File

The number of children who have succumbed to suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur rose to 104 on Monday even as the National Human Rights Commission issued notices to the Union Health ministry and the State government over the increasing number of deaths due to encephalitis.

Separately, the State government ordered the closure of all schools till June 24 as it tries to minimise the toll from a heatwave that has claimed as many as 90 lives till Monday. In Gaya, the district administration enforced Section 144 of the Code of Criminal Procedure to ensure people stay indoors and are not exposed to the blistering heat.

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar held meeting with top State and health department officials to take stock of the situation soon after his return from New Delhi. Earlier, Mr. Kumar had announced an ex-gratia of ₹4 lakh to the families of those who had died due to encephalitis and heat stroke in the State.

A team of doctors from the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) is likely to visit Muzaffarpur on Tuesday to monitor the treatment of children hospitalised with AES.

Meanwhile, the death toll due to heat stroke in the districts of the State’s Magadh region including Aurangabad, Nawada, Gaya, Jehanabad, Rohtas and Arrah climbed to almost 90.

“Though there is no official figure on this yet, but, yes not less than 90 people have died in these districts in last four days due to intense heatwave,” said a health department official, speaking on condition of anonymity. Aurangabad and Gaya have been worst hit. State health minister Mangal Pandey visited the government hospital in Gaya and met patients suffering from heat stroke. More than two dozen people have died in Gaya district alone due to the heatwave.

Gaya district magistrate Abhishek Singh also issued prohibitory orders under Section 144 to compel the public to stay indoors in order to avoid the heatwave. The district administration also banned construction and other outdoor activities that involve intense manual labour between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in the district. “Any work related to MGNREGA too will not be done after 10:30 a.m.”, the Gaya district administration said in its order.

“Situation in other districts of south-west Bihar too is alarming as government hospitals there are crammed with patients suffering heat stroke,” the health department official added.

For the last four days, south-west parts of Bihar, including Patna, have been reeling under 45° Celsius heat and meteorology department official Anand Shankar told The Hindu over phone that “heatwave is likely to continue in these districts until June 22… after that some rain showers may bring in some relief.”

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