Nitish hints at lockdowns with rising Covid cases
With Covid-19 on a rampage in Bihar, chief minister Nitish Kumar on Thursday indicated that tough steps could be taken to control the continuously deteriorating situation in the state. He also said that the people who want to return to Bihar should do so quickly.
These could include curfews and lockdowns because several curbs like the closure of religious places, educational institutions, only 33 per cent staff allowed in offices, ban on functions at public places, and restricting the number of people in personal ceremonies are already in place as part of the government efforts to tackle the pandemic.
“Prime Minister Narendra Modi had suggested that all-party meetings on Covid should be called on the level of state governors. We requested the governor and he agreed. The all-party meet will be held on April 17 under his leadership. Several suggestions will come at it. We will consider them and take the necessary steps in a better manner,” Nitish said.
“We are keeping a tab on everything. Our officials are in touch with people in other states also. Those who want to return from outside should come back as soon as possible. As far as taking steps in our state is concerned… if the situation keeps deteriorating like this we will take whatever steps are required,” Nitish added.
The chief minister was talking to media persons after getting the second shot of Covishield vaccine at the Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Sciences (IGIMS) in Patna.
Nitish had earlier said that the state government will consider imposing curfews if the situation warranted so.
Sources in the government told The Telegraph on the condition of anonymity that imposition of lockdown and curfew was being actively considered for the past one week, but Nitish thought about playing politically safe, and postponed the decisions in this regard till the all-party meeting on Covid took place.
A large number of migrant workers have already started returning to Bihar from industrialised states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Rajasthan, Delhi, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. They are taking the special trains being run by the railways and also hiring buses and trucks to reach their native places.
Bihar is at present in the throes of the coronavirus pandemic with the infections rising phenomenally this month. Altogether 4,786 new cases were detected on Wednesday, while 21 people lost their lives to the disease. Several senior officials, ministers and legislators have become infected, and are currently either in hospital or in isolation.
The state has witnessed around 3 lakh coronavirus positive cases so far. The number of active cases is currently over 26,000. The recovery rate of patients that was around 99 per cent in the first week of March has now slipped to 91.4 per cent.
Nitish expressed concern over the movement of people from different parts of the country to Bihar and the spread of coronavirus to rural areas also. He emphasised on the need for getting them tested to detect whether they are infected, as well as, to safeguard others.
The chief minister also stressed on the necessity for increasing tests and vaccination of the people.
The pace of vaccination in Bihar is much below than the desired level. The state had aimed at vaccinating 16 lakh eligible people between April 11 and 14 in the light of the ‘Tika Utsav’ (vaccination festival) called by the Prime Minister. However, only 5.44 lakh people could be vaccinated during this period.
Several vaccination centres faced the shortage of doses and had to stop giving shots to the people for a couple of days.