The Bihar government is currently focusing on testing those who have come from abroad for COVID-19 and wants migrant workers to stay where they are to ensure social distancing, state Health Minister Mangal Pandey told The Indian Express on Monday.
“We are conducting the tests. We are collecting samples, even at the district level. In Bihar, we have tested 1,000 people and 15 have tested positive. Priority is being given to those who have come from abroad,” Pandey said.
Pandey said Indian Council of Medical Research has approved three testing centres for the state and these centres can conduct 600 tests daily. “But we are not getting so many samples. People have not come out in such numbers. Only those who have symptoms have come out,” the minister said.
Asked if fear or anxiety was stopping people from approaching authorities, he denied.
“Awareness campaign is on. Everyone is aware of the disease and its impact,” he said.
The minister said that as of now, around 2,500 people are in quarantine in the state and efforts are on to identify and monitor those who may have come in contact with the infected people.
He said the state government’s priority now is to conduct tests for those who have come from abroad and to appeal to migrant workers to “stay where they are.”
“The Prime Minister has appealed to everyone that people should stay where they are during the lockdown. Movement is not the right thing to do. It is important for safety and to save themselves, they will have to maintain a distance,” he said.
“We are appealing to everyone. The Prime Minister has appealed with folded hands not to cross the lakshman rekha,” the minister added.
However, he said, the government has reached out to everyone who has come in so far. If anyone among the migrant workers shows any symptom, they will be tested immediately, said the minister.
“People are returning and we have helped them reach their villages. They are quarantined in schools run by panchayats. Around 2,500 people are in isolation and observation,” the minister said.
The ministry is following up on the data on those who have come from abroad, he said. “We go to their houses, collect samples and conduct tests,” he added.
Bihar has so far reported one death due to COVID-19.
According to Pandey, the state government has taken all measures and procured adequate material such as protection equipment, masks and testing kits.
“There is some issue with procurement but there is no shortage. PPEs and medicines are in stock and more are coming. It is true that they are not easily available, but we are taking all measures,” the minister said.
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