Hours after Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) in Muzaffarpur after the death toll rose to as many as 130 children, Bihar government has released a press note highlighting their observation on the AES outbreak. This came minutes after Bihar chief secretary Deepak Kumar said that the CM was satisfied with the facilities inside the hospital despite videos from inside the hospital suggesting otherwise.
In the press release, one reason for the deaths has been cited that the children slept without having dinner. It says that many affected children slept without eating food. It said that environmental study and analysis is necessary and that the problem of mosquitoes also has to be solved. It also noted that the problem of Drinking water has to be monitored.
The press release further stated that the CM has said that apart from awareness campaign, there must be a focus on all other issues surrounding the affected children. The release also mentioned that the CM wants to know the ratio of girls and boys affected by the disease. The press note further stated that the CM has ordered to increase the number of beds in the hospital and the ICU. He also said that doctors should be available 24*7 in the hospital.
However, the press note did not provide an answer to the cause of AES or steps that have been taken by the government until now.
Here is the press release by Bihar CM Nitish Kumar:
On June 18, as the Bihar Chief Minister was leaving the venue at the Vidhan Sabha campus in Patna after paying tribute to Anugrah Narayan Sinha on his birth anniversary, Republic TV reporter confronted him and asked him if it is too late that he is visiting the patients in the Muzaffarpur hospital after days of the encephalitis outbreak. However, Nitish Kumar chose to duck and ignore the question "Isn't it too late?" as he sat in his car and left the venue.
As per reports, the death toll in Muzaffarpur district has reached 109, in Vaishali district 1 and in Samastipur 4, with the administration under Chief Minister Nitish Kumar blaming it on excessive heat and humidity, hypoglycemia, eating litchis on an empty stomach. However, despite the disease affecting the state every year, the questions as to why the state or Centre failed to combat this illness remains unanswered.
As Nitish Kumar visited the SKMCH hospital on Tuesday morning, protest broke out over his silence on the incident. A protestor outside the SKMCH hospital said: "CM cannot just sit in his car and walk away, he has to reply. We are protesting against the inefficiency of the government. Nitish Kumar must answer, he cannot come in an AC car and go."
Meanwhile, a case has been filed by social activist Tamanna Hashmi against Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey in a court in Muzaffarpur district on charges of negligence leading to the deaths of innocent children due to AES over a period of 9 days. Moreover, it was alleged that Union Health Minister of State Ashwini Kumar Choubey was sleeping during the press briefing on the Acute Encephalitis Syndrome by Union Minister Dr Harsh Vardhan.
Making a shocking remark on Tuesday while responding to questions of the media over Bihar government's inefficiency in taking adequate measures to prevent deaths of children and other patients due to AES in the state, Bihar Tourism Minister Pramod Kumar made an insensitive remark saying that no one can stop a disease, arguing that the Nitish Kumar administration is working for the people amid the outbreak.
Meanwhile, former Chief Minister Rabri Devi has targeted the 'double engine' government in the state of Bihar and said that negligence of the Nitish Kumar led government has led to the 'murder' of so many children.