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Why Bihar’s Record in Handling COVID-19 Is Dismal

Among the states, Bihar faces the greatest challenge, particularly in terms of the reverse migration occurring from the lockdown following the COVID-19 pandemic. Considering the poor state of its health services infrastructure, the state government should have taken urgent and appropriate measures to screen, test and quarantine the returning migrant workers. This article takes a look at the trajectory of the government’s response to the health crisis.

Bihar, the second most populous state, has poor infrastructure overall, but especially so in the health sector. The state has witnessed the transfer of the principal secretary of its health department for the second time since 22 March 2020 (Hindu 2020; PTI 2020). This is a stark illustration of how the COVID-19 global pandemic is taking on an ugly shape in the state with each passing day. It is also facing severe floods leading to 19 deaths and around 66.60 lakh people from 16 districts ­being affected by the deluge as on 5 August 2020 (Government of Bihar 2020a).

Bihar has reported 64,732 COVID-19 positive cases and 369 deaths till 5 August 2020 (Ministry of Health and Family Welfare 2020). The state began dete­cting these cases rather late, though the first infection came to light on 22 March when the patient’s test results were ­reported after his death. He had a history of foreign travel and had met a number of people before he died. Now, after ­almost four and half months following that case, it appears, then, that a number of factors converged to create this situation, ran­ging from the government’s negligence to poor infrastructure to lack of transparency and willpower to contain the infection.

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Updated On : 17th Aug, 2020

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