High Population Density Makes Bihar All The More Vulnerable to Covid-19: Nitish

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Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that the state is definitely facing a threat from coronavirus because of its highest population density in the country and hence needs to remain alert.

"There is definitely a threat to Bihar (from coronavirus) as our population density is highest in the country. It is three-fold of the national average and hence we need to remain alert and cautious," Kumar said in the state assembly.

Kumar made the observation while expressing his views soon after the governments reply on debate on "coronavirus and flood" that have badly hit the state. The CM emphasised that there is a need to create awareness among people for wearing mask, hand hygiene, maintaining at least two yard (do gaj doori) of distance from others in order to protect oneself from getting infected from the virus.

"It is our responsibility to increase the level of awareness among the people. Though the government is taking all possible measures to contain the spread," he said while cautioning that no one knows as how things vis--vis coronavirus would unfold in the coming months.

The killer virus, which has spread every where in the world, is not a "political" issue as everyone is affected by it and hence we need support and cooperation of everyone including political parties, Kumar said.

He urged Speaker Vijay Kumar Choudhary to constitute an all party committee (of the House whose tenure is till November 2020) which will discuss COVID issue besides giving suggestions as how to improve the situation. Doctors, paramedical staff, nurses and health department staff will be given one month of basic salary as incentive for dedicating themselves in the fight against the disease, Kumar said. According to an updated bulletin of the state's health department, the count of novel coronavirus cases inched closer to 60,000-mark in Bihar,while COVID-19 death toll has risen to 336.

Talking about the flood in Bihar, the CM said 55.72 lakh people have been affected by deluge in the 1079 panchayats in 14 districts. Darbhanga has the highest number of 17.85 lakh flood- hit population.

Kumar said that the state government has so far transferred gratuitous relief of Rs 6000 each to 2,63,659 families affected by floods. He said that he has set a target to transfer GR amount to every flood affected family in the next 10 days. Everyone residing in relief centres in flood affected districts should be tested for COVID, Kumar said adding that it would help the administration in isolating the infected person, who could spread the disease to others in the camp.

Talking about RT-PCR test research, Kumar said that if the test report of a person is below 24, then he/she may infect others. Of the deaths (322 till Sunday evening) due to coronavirus, more than 200 had co-morbidities, the CM said.

Earlier, speaking during the debate on twin problems of coronavirus and flood, Leader of Opposition Tejashwi Prasad Yadav criticized the state government for its failure to create robost infrastructure in the past 15 years and cited NHRM, NITI Aayog, UNICEF data to drive home his point. There were 101 Community Health Centres (CHCs) in 2005, Yadav said while adding that only 49 new CHCs could be added in the past 15 years of the NDA government. Similarly, the number of primary health centres was 12,086 in the state in the year 2005, but the number of PHCs has declined to 11,958 in 2019, he said.

Talking about doctor-patient ratio, the RJD leader said that ideally there should be one doctor on every 1000 patients but it is 1:3207 in urban areas while it is 1:17685 in rural areas of the state. "There is a need to develop medical infrastructure in the state. Bihar is at the bottom of health parameters," Yadav said stating that these are the comments of NITI Aayog. "This is the state of affairs of health in Bihar under the double-engine government (at the centre as well as in the state), he said.

The RJD ruled in Bihar from 1990 to November 2005 when it was replaced by NDA under the leadership of Nitish Kumar. Kumar has spend 15 years in power in the state since then except for a brief period when he had appointed Jitan Ram Manjhi after JD(U)'s crushing defeat in the 2014 Parliamentary election in the state.

Tejashwi Yadav also took on states health minister Mangal Pandey for claiming that the central team, which visited the state for two days to assess the Covid situation, had praised the Bihar government for tackling pandemic. "The fact is that the minister lied", he said.

Stating that the three-member central health team criticised the state government, Tejashwi said while quoting the teams remark, "Members are aghast. What they saw in Patna when they visited multiple hospitals that bodies of COVID patients unattended lying on beds and corridor."

"Doctors are not going near the COVID-19 patients because they dont have PPE kits. Doctors fear that who will treat them if they get infected.The whole system has collapsed," Yadav, who is younger son of RJD supremo Lalu Prasad, said while quoting the team members.