As the condition in the state of Bihar gets worse as the number of cases of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome(AES) increases with the Nitish Kumar-led government still confused on the cause of the fatal outbreak, even more, shocking developments have surfaced as Republic continue the investigation.
On Wednesday, father of a child who was unconscious said that the SKMC hospital was not admitting children despite conditions being critical. Another relative of a patient alleged that first when the children died the hospital administration snatched gold ornaments from his nose. Moreover, they demanded 2500 rupees for postmortem.
"My child is unconscious. and they(nurses) are telling me to go away and saying that there is no place. What should I do? They are saying that I must put the oxygen mask on my child by myself. How can I do that. I don't know," said a patient's father holding his daughter into his arms.
Another victim's relative added:
"They snatch the gold ornaments from the child, a child died, they took their nose pin and said that only if we pay 2500 rupees will there be a postmortem".
As per reports, the death toll in Bihar on Wednesday has reached 132, 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.
Bihar government on June 18 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.
On June 18, as the Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar 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.
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.