As death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) reaches 101 in Muzaffarpur district, Bihar, the state Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has called an emergency internal meeting on Monday to address the situation arisen due to the outbreak of the disease. Reports say that health department senior officials are to be present in the meeting.
Earlier in the day, speaking to Republic TV, Bihar cabinet minister Shyam Rajak stated that nobody is aware of the cause of the sickness, however, the government is distributing leaflets to raise awareness.
He said, "Nobody knows the cause, but as far as such illness is concerned, for people to come to the hospitals we have gone to homes distributing leaflets saying if any such symptoms are hinted they should go to the hospital."
When questioned about the JD(U) chief's absence, Rajak shielding Kumar said that his 'efforts are important'.
He said, "This is not a question as to whether the chief minister wants to come or not. He is doing efforts that is important. The Opposition has nothing to say, hence they are criticising Nitish. I came here as a representative, his efforts are important rather than his visit."
Previously, on Sunday Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan accompanied by Union Minister of State for Health Ashwani Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, visited the state-owned Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) to review the current situation. Addressing a press conference after reviewing the situation, Vardhan explained the efforts taken by the Centre and the state.
"I took an overall comprehensive view. The efforts made by the government till now is good. We have set the timelines to improve the situation after meeting with Bihar Health minister. An epidemiologist will be posted immediately to study this district continuously," he said.
Muzaffarpur district administration has cited excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchi on an empty stomach as some of the reasons for this condition. They have also said that some of the patients who died in areas of extreme heat and humidity. They added that malnourishment was the major reason due to which they were unable to cope. Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar had said a few days ago that the disease had affected 222 blocks in 12 districts, especially in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran.