Bihar on Wednesday reported its seventh death of a coronavirus patient, as migrant workers contributed to more than one-third of the total cases, with the virus spreading to cover the entire state late on Tuesday.
Fifty-three people, including two nurses — one from the Nalanda Medical College Hospital (NMCH), a dedicated Covid-19 hospital, and another from the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS), both in Patna — also tested positive, while a 56-year-old woman, suffering from cancer of gallbladder and infected by the virus, died at the NMCH on Wednesday.
This was Bihar’s first female fatality to the Sars-CoV-2 virus, with co-morbid conditions, as the total number of cases swelled to 932.
A resident of Ashiana-Digha More, the NMCH nurse had come in contact with two Covid-19 patients during the course of their treatment at the hospital, said NMCH medical nodal officer, Dr Ajay Kumar Sinha.
Five health personnel at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna have already tested positive for the virus so far, the latest being a nurse on Wednesday. The nurse who stays on the hospital campus, used to reside with another nurse who had previously tested positive and had to terminate her pregnancy due to some gynaecological complications.
The two nurses were among the four people to have tested positive in Patna. Nine other cases were reported from Nawada, seven from Bhojpur, six from Bhagalpur, four each from Siwan and Banka, three each from Begusarai, Rohtas, Khagaria and Muzaffarpur, two from Gopalganj and one each from Madhubani and Kaimur.
Around 130 people reported positive on Tuesday in what was the biggest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases since March 22, when Bihar reported the first three cases of the fast spreading contagion.
As of Tuesday, 343 Covid-19 cases were reported last week, according to government data shared through a tweet by its principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar.
MIGRANTS LEAD SPIKE IN CASES
The government attributed the sharp increase in the number of cases to the return of migrants from other states.
“Of the total Covid-19 cases, 332 are those who came to the state from within India during the lockdown period. Of them, 277 people came after May 3 (lockdown 3.0),” said Bihar’s health secretary Lokesh Kumar Singh.
Singh said of the 277, most had come from Delhi (78), followed by Gujarat (71), Maharashtra (57), and West Bengal (20) and Haryana (13).
He also said the percentage of cases testing positive as against the samples tested, had gone up of late.
“As of now, 2.32% of the total samples tested (39,149) have turned positive. This figure used hover between 1.7%-1.8% until recently, but has shown an increase since the migrant workers have begun returning home in an organised and structured manner. The increase in number of cases is the outcome of the random tests we have been conducting on them,” added Singh.
Bihar’s concern may be far from over as over 4.27 lakh migrants are still expected to come by 267 additional Shramik Express trains.
“Till May 11, we had received 1,37,401 migrant workers by 115 special trains for them. We are now planning to run 267 more trains, which are expected to ferry an additional 4,27,200 passengers. Together, we will receive 5,64,600 migrant workers. This is not the final figure on migrant workers expected to reach Bihar from outside the state,” said Anupam Kumar, secretary information and public relations department (IPRD).
Over 85,500 migrants are expected to return to Bihar between Wednesday and Thursday.
“We transported 34,629 passengers by 25 trains today and expect another 50,910 passengers by 34 trains tomorrow,” said Kumar.
He also clarified that the increase in the number of Covid-19 cases in the state was not due to increased testing of samples, but because of the home-coming of migrant workers.
Around 1.89 lakh people, mostly migrants, were staying for 21 days in 4,163 block quarantine centres, set up to curb the large-scale spread of the virus if they were to directly return to their respective villages.
Spelling out the different parameters set by the government for quarantining people coming from outside the state, he said students coming from outside the state, including Kota, had been allowed home quarantine, as many of them were minors and girls.
“Those returning from abroad will have to stay at institutional quarantine centres on payment basis. The government has already identified hotels in Gaya and Bodh Gaya, where international passengers coming to the state will be quarantined,” added Kumar.
Normal train passengers would not be quarantined as they were coming under relaxation measures after proper screening at the station of origin, he added. The government re-started limited train operations from Tuesday.