Heat wave kills 71 in Bihar as encephalitis toll rises to 85
The Bihar government on Sunday issued an advisory asking people to remain indoors as far as possible as a blistering heat wave claimed 71 lives over the past 30 hours even as the state grapples with encephalitis which has left 85 dead so far this year.
Thirty-four deaths were reported from Aurangabad, 25 from Gaya and 12 from Nawada during the past 30 hours. An official confirmation, however, was awaited. Bihar health minister, Mangal Pandey, and principal secretary, health, Sanjay Kumar, were unreachable at the time of filing this report.
Pandey and Kumar were accompanying Union health ministers Dr Harsh Vardhan and Ashwini Kumar Choubey to Muzaffarpur, where 85 children have died due to acute encephalitis syndrome (AES) so far this year. Most of the casualties took place in the last two weeks. The government, however, confirmed 73 deaths due to AES till Saturday of which 62 were reported at the Sri Krishna Medical College Hospital (SKMCH) and 11 at the Kejriwal Matrisadan Clinic (KMC) in Muzaffarpur.
“Today’s figures on AES and heat stroke are yet to be compiled. As per Saturday’s listing, 73 children have so far died due to AES in Bihar, and another 35 due to heat wave in Aurangabad, Gaya and Nawada,” said Manoj Kumar, executive director, State Health Society (SHS), Bihar.
Temperatures in Patna have been hovering in the mid-40s since June 14. According to the MeT office’s forecast, the heat wave in Bihar is predicted to last till Tuesday. According to a MeT official, heatwave is declared when the maximum temperature is 4.5 degrees Celsius above normal for two consecutive days.
Patna recordered a maximum temperature of 45.8 degrees Celsius on Saturday, the highest in June in the last 10 years.
Most of the heat wave victims were aged 18 and above while encephalitis has claimed the lives of children up to 16 years of age.
The advisory on heat, issued by the SHS, asked people to keep themselves hydrated and drink as much water as possible, even if they were not thirsty. It also asked them to carry water bottle when travelling out of home.
It asked people to wear loose and light-colour attire and to cover their heads with either cap or light cotton cloth when stepping out in the sun.
It also advised people to not do heavy manual labour when temperature was high.
The advisory asked people to eat light and drink plenty of water, lassi, water mixed with salt and sugar (generally used as oral rehydration solution), lemon water, mango juice, etc.
It also asked people to eat cucumber, watermelon, lemon, orange and other citrus fruits.
The advisory asked people to refrain from taking high protein diet as they increased the body temperature. It also asked them to avoid taking meat, dry fruits, besides tea, coffee and alcohol. Notably, Bihar has been a dry state since April 5, 2016. Yet, the state advisory has insisted on reiterating that people should not drink alcohol.
It also asked parents to not keep children alone in closed vehicles. With AES also wreaking havoc in Bihar, the state has already asked parents to keep their children indoors.
The advisory also asked pet lovers to keep them inside or under shade, and to also keep their room well ventilated at night.