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Opinion

Brakes in Bihar as Covid Case Positivity Rate Rises

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Bihar reintroduced curbs, limiting wedding guests to 100 and “shradh” (death) guests to 25, while allowing offices to run with just 50% of its workforce in six districts including Patna, as his worst fears of a spike in coronavirus cases after the festival season seemed to be coming true, with the case positivity rate rising over the past week.

The restrictions, which took effect immediately on Thursday, will be in effect until December 3. The government will review the situation and decide on a possible extension of its order after that, said Amir Subhani, Bihar’s additional chief secretary for home, as he addressed a presser foot on Thursday night.

The government limited assistance to offices, both government and private, to half their workforce in Patna, Begusarai, Jamui, Vaishali, West Champaran and Saran. These districts, particularly Patna, had shown a “more than normal increase in the rate of case positivity.” However, those under essential services were kept out of the reach of the order, Subhani said.

He said that staffing in the offices had been regulated according to Home Office (MHA) guidelines for cities that have a positive case rate of more than 10.

“Patna has a positive case rate of around 18%, but the other five districts have less than 5. However, they have shown a more than normal increase in the positive case rate during the last 3-4 days, which led us to take preventive measures, ”said Pratyaya Amrit, senior secretary of Bihar’s department of health and disaster management.

The officers, however, did not share the break in the district’s positivity rate.

Subhani also advised devotees to avoid going to the banks of the river for a holy bath on the occasion of the upcoming Kartik Purnima festival (November 30), as there is a possibility that the infection will spread through air and water. .

The state, he said, had also issued a warning urging people over 60 and children under 10, pregnant women, those suffering from fever and other critical illnesses to venture out during the festival that follows. People were also advised to avoid crowded buses and public transport.

The number of guests at the weddings had been limited to 100, including waiters to serve food, Subhani said. Similarly, the guests at the “shradh” ceremony had been limited to 25.

Guests would have to wear face masks. Those hosting such functions will need to ensure thermal scanning of guests and make arrangements for disinfectants. Door handles, knobs, furniture, and other surfaces that were exposed would need to be cleaned regularly and sanitized where possible.

Guests with symptoms of Covid-19 will not be able to attend such functions.

The government also banned any wedding processions and DJs on the roads. However, they were allowed at the wedding venue, keeping the guest limit at 100.

The number of public transport passengers navigating within Patna and those traveling interdistrict from Patna had been limited to half its capacity.

These measures, officials said, were taken to contain the spread of the infection in the state.

“We are closely monitoring the situation and doing everything we can to contain the spread of the infection,” Amrit concluded.

Prabhat Kumar Jha, director of the department of information and public relations, was also present on the occasion.

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