Patna, Sep 21 (PTI) Five weeks since the COVID-19 situation in Bihar had reached its nadir, with single-day count surging past 4,000, the state has ramped up sample tests and plugged holes in its healthcare system, steadily narrowing the gap between fresh cases and recoveries.
According to the latest health department bulletin, Bihar clocked a recovery rate of 91.63 per cent on Sunday, far better than the national average of around 80 per cent.
Altogether 1,314 new cases were recorded in the state over the last 24 hours while 1,381 people recovered from the infection during the period. On Sunday, 1,555 new cases were registered against 1,487 recoveries.
Principal Secretary, Health, Pratyaya Amrit, attributed this turnaround to a steep rise in the number of tests being conducted every day, with Sunday's tally touching 1.76 lakh.
Amrit, who had taken charge of the health department in July-end, said, 'The situation changed for better over the past few weeks after the state firmed up its health infrastructure and increased the number of tests, with the average daily surpassing one lakh. Soon, we shall make arrangements to carry out 1.50 sample tests in a day.' The 53-year-old principal secretary is the third officer who has been put on the hot seat by Chief Minister Nitish Kumar in a span of three months to put the brakes on the spread of COVID-19.
'Efforts have been made to address social stigma associated with the disease and create an environment where people are no longer scared of undergoing tests.
'The health department has launched 'sanjivan' app, which provides necessary information like availability of beds in a hospital, and registers grievances of patients, if any,' he explained.
The principal secretary further said that all hospitals and private health centres have been given strict instructions to carry out sample tests at a fixed rate of Rs 2,500. 'We plan to reduce the rate further to Rs 1,200 per test,' Amrit, who is often referred to as the chief minister's 'go-to man', said.
As many as 58,73,939 sample tests have been conducted in Bihar so far. The state has reported a total of 1,69,855 confirmed cases, of which 1,55,824 have recovered and 870 succumbed to the infection.
Talking about the 'prompt measures' taken by the state to deal with the pandemic, he said the recruitment process of health personnel was fast-tracked, and at least 2,500 new doctors and 4,000 nurses appointed in different hospitals of the state over the past few months.
'The department had earlier in the year recorded a shortage of 11,500 health personnel, including doctors and nurses. The figure has come down to 4,800 now,' he maintained.
The 1991-batch IAS officer, who holds online review meetings with the superintendents of all hospitals twice a week, said he has 'individually visited all medical facilities to get a first-hand idea of the situation, and seek feedback from the COVID warriors'.
Patients in the COVID wards of these hospitals have been provided with TV sets and other modes of entertainment to help them cope with stress and anxiety during the course of their treatment, he added. PTI SNS RMS RMS