A central team is visiting Bihar today to access the state’s coronavirus preparedness amid the pandemic. The visit by the three-member team led by Joint Secretary Lav Agarwal comes amid allegations of poor handling of the COVID-19 situation by the Nitish Kumar government. The state reported over 1,700 cases on Saturday.
Several videos have been circulating on social media in which people are complaining about inadequate facilities and negligence at state-run hospitals.
In Katihar, a patient reportedly died at a hospital after the hospital staff failed to provide him oxygen cylinder.
RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav — who has been attacking Nitish Kumar over the handling of the crisis — today shared a video of people complaining about the lack of doctors and nurses at a hospital in Siwan. A woman is seen lying unattended at a hospital bed as her attendants call for help.
“There is no doctor to attend to us. They just came, gave injection and left,” a voice in the background is heard saying in the video. Almost all the beds in the ward were empty.
Siwan is the hometown of state Health Minister Mangal Pandey.
Mr Yadav has previously accused the Chief Minister for “playing havoc with the lives of 12.6 crore Biharis” and accused him of valuing his image over the lives of people in the state. “Bihar is heading towards becoming a global hotspot of the COVID-19 pandemic,” the RJD leader said on Saturday, accusing the government of over the “low” number of tests being conducted.
“Nitishji is playing havoc with the lives of 12.6 crores Biharis. To avoid bad press, he is suppressing data. Is your image more important than the lives of our people, Mr Chief Minister,” he said, warning lakhs of people would die if low testing levels continue.
According to the Bihar government’s latest figures, 24,967 people have tested positive for the virus as on July 17. Samples of 10,502 people were collected during the last 24 hours, it said. The state also reported a recovery rate of 63.17 per cent.
But Mr Yadav, the leader of opposition in the state legislative assembly, has claimed that state required to conduct 30,000-35,000 tests a day given the size and population of Bihar.
If the required number of tests are conducted, 4,000- 5,000 cases would be detected every day, thus putting the state at the top in the country in terms of the spread of coronavirus, he claimed.
The Bihar government has however refuted the allegations of levelled by Tejashwi Yadav.
“Corona is a pandemic and people of Bihar knows that it is a difficult situation. The state government is sensitive to the issue (COVID-19) and is taking all measures to curb the infection. The doctors and health workers are putting their lives at risk to save people. But you (Tejashwi) can’t see it,” Bihar Minister and JDU leader Neeraj Kumar was quoted as saying by news agency ANI.
However, it is not just the Opposition that has questioned Nitish Kumar’s response to the crisis.
On Saturday, the Lok Janshakti Party, which is part of alliance in Bihar, welcomed the centre’s decision to send a team to review the COVID-19 situation in Bihar.
“The spiralling coronavirus cases in Bihar might soon lead to an explosive situation and has become a matter of concern for the people of the state. Keeping in view the circumstances, the Central Government has decided to send a team to Bihar so that the situation can be brought under control,” tweeted Mr Paswan.
The tweets by the LJP’s young national president came just hours after opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav called the central team’s visit as evidence that the “Nitish Kumar government is manipulating COVID-19 numbers” in the state.