PATNA: Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar on Monday said that testing rate for COVID-19 was being cranked up in view of the “second wave” of the pandemic which has caused a spike in fresh cases in many parts of the country, including the state.
Talking to reporters here, he said, the testing rate had come down to 20,000 samples per day following a let up during winter and the vaccination drive but now directions have been issued to increase that by at least five times.
“At a recent meeting I have asked officials concerned to ensure that the number of tests conducted per day is raised to one lakh samples per day.
Most of these have to be RT-PCR tests, it has been made clea”, he said.
“Simultaneously, vaccination drive will continue. Along with these measures, restrictions like postponement of reopening of schools and renewed stress on social distancing and wearing of masks should help us tide over the challenge”, he added.
Bihar is also witnessing a spike in coronavirus cases.
According to the health department bulletin, 935 fresh COVID cases were reported in the state, 432 out of which was in Patna.
The coronavirus tally is 269312 in the state, where the count of the active cases stood at 4143.
The state tested 72,418 samples in the past 24 hours, while the total test of samples so far was over 2.40 crore.
The recovery rate in Bihar is 97.87 per cent.
Total deaths due to coronavirus in the state is 1586.
On the vaccination front, 47,875 people were administered jabs on Sunday, while 3496836 citizens have been inoculated in Bihar.
Replying to reporters queries on other issues, the chief minister accused the opposition of seeking “publicity” by attacking him and his government over incidents like the killing of five people in Madhubani district, around Holi, and a hooch tragedy in Nawada which has claimed 15 lives.
The main opposition RJD has formed a “fact-finding team” comprising five members for visiting the site of incident where five members of a family were shot dead following a dispute over fishing in a pond.
The chief minister reacted testily “perhaps it serves them well to get some publicity this way. We believe in work. The DGP has been regularly in touch with officials concerned and the guilty will soon be caught and brought to justice”.
He also pointed out that in Nawada, “action has been taken” in connection with the hooch tragedy which has similarly led to opposition criticism of the government.
Nawada SP Dhurat Sayali Savlaram had at a press conference earlier in the day confirmed altogether 15 deaths on account of consumption of spurious liquor during the Holi festivities.
She also said four persons have been arrested in this connection while two police officials and a chowkidar have been placed under suspension for laxity and dereliction of duty.
Sale and consumption of liquor was completely banned in the state in April, 2016.
Meanwhile, several police personnel were injured here on Monday while trying to quell a mob that went on rampage in protest against the Bihar government’s deferment of reopening of schools, colleges and coaching institutes by a week, in view of the recent spurt in COVID-19 cases.
The town police station area here, district headquarters of Rohtas, witnessed mayhem at the hands of “anti-social elements, besides some students egged on by mischievous private coaching institute owners”, a senior police official said.
According to Ashish Bharti, Superintendent of Police, Rohtas, about a dozen people have been rounded up so far in connection with the violence, vandalism and arson.
The Gaurakshini locality in the town and the area in the vicinity of the collectorate bore witness to the agitators burning heaps of tyres on the road and pulling down a traffic police post.
They also indulged in stone-pelting when police tried to disperse them.
There are over hundred of coaching institues in the Sasaram town training students for the school examinations besides those for the competitive tests.
Altogether six police personnel, including an SHO, have been admitted to a hospital for treatment of injuries sustained during the incident, the SP said.
District Magistrate Dharmendra Kumar said in a strongly worded statement “in view of the raging pandemic, it had been decided to keep all educational institutions shut till at least April 11.
“But, some coaching institute owners instigated students to indulge in lawlessness and many anti-social elements took advantage of the situation”.
“We are duty-bound to identify the culprits on the basis of video footage and take action. They may end up having adverse entry in their character certificates which could deprive them of many career opportunities.”
“Citizens must dissuade youngsters in their families from indulging in such acts which could jeopardize their future”, he added.
Notably, the state government had recently come out with a circular stating that those found taking part in violent demonstrations might end up getting adverse remarks in their character certificates provided by the local police.
This would debar them from getting jobs or contracts with the government, the missive had stated, evoking criticism from the opposition.