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AES spreads in Bihar, power cuts at hospital

Four more cases were reported in Bhagalpur district

By Dev Raj in Patna
  • Published 20.06.19, 7:30 AM
  • Updated 20.06.19, 7:30 AM
  • a min read
Family members mourn the loss of a child at a hospital in Muzaffarpur on Wednesday Picture by PTI

The Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) toll touched 116 in Bihar on Wednesday and showed signs of spreading further as four more cases were reported in Bhagalpur district.

Two of the four persons suspected to have AES died at Jawaharlal Nehru Medical College and Hospital in Bhagalpur. AES cases have been reported from East and West Champaran, Sheohar, Sitamarhi, Vaishali, Muzaffarpur, Samastipur, Bhagalpur and some other districts in north Bihar.

Health department principal secretary Sanjay Kumar said the condition of 14 children was serious, while 187 kids had been treated and discharged.

The Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital, which is serving as the main referral facility for patients from Muzaffarpur and neighbouring districts, witnessed multiple power cuts in quick succession on Wednesday, sparking panic among doctors as ICUs need constant electricity supply.

The doctors said the newly installed air-conditioners for the additional paediatric ICUs had caused overloading.

Hospital superintendent Sunil Kumar Shahi has written to the district magistrate, seeking rectification.

Doctors faced difficulty also because of constant visits by politicians, social activists and journalists.

The central and state governments have initiated steps to tackle the AES outbreak. Union health minister Harsh Vardhan chaired a meeting on Wednesday to review the situation.

The minister has ordered the dispatch of five teams of senior paediatricians and para-medics to Muzaffarpur. These teams will have 10 paediatricians, including five senior consultants, and five para-medics from RML Hospital, Safdarjung, and Lady Hardinge Medical College.

“The teams will strengthen clinical care to patients in the hospitals and also boost the surveillance of cases from the peripheral areas…,” Harsh Vardhan said.

Ten additional ambulances have been deployed in the most affected blocks.

Sixteen nodal officers — teams of senior doctors and an administrative official — have been deployed at the primary health centres in some of the affected blocks to strengthen the health infrastructure and facilitate the transportation of patients to hospitals.

Deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi was criticised for refusing to answer questions on AES on the sidelines of a bankers’ event in Patna on Wednesday.