Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar Tuesday told Prime Minister Narendra Modi that the state plans to raise testing rate for COVID-19 to over one lakh per day. Kumar, who was joined by his counterparts in nine other states at the video conference meeting on coronavirus situation, said the state was at present testing more than 75,000 samples daily though the number of RT-PCR examinations, which he called “the most important”, remained as low as about 6100 per day.
“The RT-PCR facility will soon be introduced at five more medical college hospitals which would help in raising the daily average by about 2300. “Moreover, we have plans to purchase 10 RT-PCR and RNA extraction machines which would raise our capacity by another 5,000”, he said.
The state government has set a target of conducting more than one lakh tests every day, he said. “We want our entire population tested so that the spread of the coronavirus could be effectively checked. The density of population in Bihar is 1102 as against the national average of 382.
This makes the task daunting for us, Kumar observed. He requested the Centre to provide Bihar with two COBAS-6800 machines which would enable it to increase the number of RT-PCR tests to about 20,000 per day.
The chief minister also thanked the centre for helping set up two 500-bed dedicated COVID hospitals, at Bihta near Patna and in Muzaffarpur, drawing from the PM Care Fund. “At present, the dedicated COVID facilities have 32,124 beds. We intend to raise the number to 70,000. We are also ensuring free of charge medical facilities to those in home isolation”, Kumar added.
The chief minister acknowledged a steep rise in fresh cases since July, but added that the recovery rate was a healthy 65.43 per cent while the mortality rate was less than one per cent. He also said special emphasis was being laid on conducting tests at relief camps and community kitchens set up at flood-hit districts of north Bihar.