Bihar districts voting in first phase of polls have less than 5% Covid-19 positivity rate
Bihar has been testing 12% to 14% of the total samples on RT-PCR while the remaining is done on rapid antigen kits, which has false negativity of up to 40%.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 21:39 IST
Sixteen districts spread over 71 constituencies going to polls in the first phase of assembly election in Bihar have a Covid-19 positivity rate of less than 5%, the state’s health department officials said.
But despite the projection of the health department officials, a Central team now on a three-day visit to Bihar has cautioned the government of a possible spike in the pandemic post festive season which coincides with the election.
Out of the 16 districts, five districts, namely Bhagalpur, Purnia, Begusarai, Gaya and Katihar figured in top 10 of the state’s Covid-19 tally in terms of cumulative cases as on Wednesday.
Bhagalpur with 8,111 Covid-19 cases and 65 deaths ranks third, followed by Purnia with 7,629 cases and 10 deaths at fourth, Begusarai with 6,682 cases and 27 deaths at eighth, Gaya with 6,277 cases and 47 deaths at ninth and Katihar with 6,307 cases and 11 deaths at tenth.
Of the 2,09,296 total cases and 1,026 fatalities in Bihar, Patna at 33,566 has the highest number of cases with 254 deaths. The state capital, which has a case positivity rate of over 7%, goes to polls in the second phase on November 3.
“Barring Patna, the remaining 37 districts in Bihar have a case positivity rate of less than 5% on the real time polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), which is a confirmatory test for Covid-19,” said a senior state health officer who requested anonymity.
“If the tests on rapid antigen kits are to be taken into account, the positivity rate will further go down to 1% - 3%, with most districts reporting a positivity rate of around 1% in Bihar,” he added.
Despite assurance, the officer, however, did not share the district-wise case positivity rate.
Citing the model code of conduct, senior health officers refused to come on record.
Bihar has been testing 12% to 14% of the total samples on RT-PCR while the remaining is done on rapid antigen kits, which has false negativity of up to 40%.
The state health department has decided on house-to-house survey and 100% testing in containment zones to check for Covid-19 cases.
“The exercise will be undertaken from October 24 to 26 in districts going to polls in the first phase. For those in the second phase, the exercise will be undertaken between October 29 and 31,” said Patna civil surgeon Dr Vibha Kumari Singh.
Out of the total 11,430 containment zones, Bihar now had 375 active containment zones, as on October 20. A maximum of 12 active containment zones were in Patna, said health officials.
To hold Bihar assembly elections safely, the Election Commission has reportedly arranged more than seven lakh hand sanitiser units, about 46 lakh masks, 6 lakh PPE kits, 6.7 lakh units of faces-shields, 23 lakh pairs of gloves.
Each voter would have to undergo temperature checks when entering a polling booth, wear masks, which they will have to remove briefly for identification, and also wear gloves at the time of signing the register, and pressing the EVM button for voting.
Taking into consideration the safety of voters, the timing of polling has been extended by one hour. Now, voters in Bihar will be able to exercise their franchise from 7 am to 6 pm.
The EC has also reduced the number of voters at each booth from 1,500 to 1,000. As a result, the number of polling stations has gone up to more than one lakh. In 2015 Bihar Assembly Elections, the number stood at over 65, 337.
Bihar, which had 67 million electors in 2015, now has 72 million.