'Less than satisfactory adherence to COVID norms outside urban centres during Bihar poll campaign'

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New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) The health ministry on Tuesday said during the Bihar poll campaign, a central government team found adherence to COVID norms like wearing masks and hand hygiene 'less than satisfactory' outside the urban centres.

Responding to a question at a press briefing, Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said the findings of the team were shared with the state and Bihar took the requisite corrective action.

'During the election campaigning period, we had deputed a central team to Bihar, which found certain good practices and also, certain areas of concern. Particularly, the team found that outside the urban centres, the wearing of masks, maintenance of physical distance and hand hygiene were less than satisfactory.

'We have shared the findings with the state government as we do with respect to other states and we are happy to report that once we submitted the findings for the states, the requisite corrective action was initiated by Bihar,' he said.

Bhushan said central teams were sent not only to Bihar but also to other states, where bypolls were being conducted.

'We had sent a central team because we were concerned not only in Bihar, but also in other states, where bypolls were being conducted and where there were reports that social distancing was not being followed, masks were not being worn. The reports were shared with the states and where a time-bound follow-up action was required. The cause of satisfaction is when we drew their attention, the states took steps to rectify it,' he said.

Responding to a query on whether the violation of the COVID norms would lead to a spurt in cases, the official said, 'These things are long term, so what has happened in Bihar last week or 10 days ago would take time to manifest itself whether in terms of new numbers or any other development, so this is something that requires a close watch and within the ministry, we do keep a close watch on a 24-hour basis.' He said 1,15,21,841 COVID-19 tests have so far been conducted in Bihar, of which 12,93,900 or roughly 12 per cent were RT-PCR and the remaining RAT.

'You can always argue that a large number of tests are RAT but Bihar has also been advised by us that whenever they conduct RAT, those who are symptomatic negative must mandatorily be subjected to RT-PCR. This is the advice that we give to all states and Union territories because we would not want any undetected person to move around in the society and spread infection,' Bhushan said.

Polling for the Bihar election was held in three phases for a total of 243 seats -- the first phase for 71 seats on October 28, the second for 94 seats on November 3 and the third for the remaining 78 on November 7. PTI UZM PLB RC