The death toll due to Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) has risen to 128 in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur district with 108 deaths being reported at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and 20 at Kejriwal hospital.
The disease has reportedly killed over 150 children in Bihar over the past three weeks although officials have confirmed a lower number of deaths.
Earlier on Wednesday, Senior BJP leader and Bihar’s deputy chief minister Sushil Kumar Modi came under fire after he asked the reporters to go out of his Press Conference on being asked about the deaths of children from suspected encephalitis.
The leaders of the ruling government including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar have repeatedly ducked questions on the rising number of child deaths in the state.
Earlier on Tuesday, Chief Minister Nitish Kumar visited the Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital in Muzaffarpur district to take stock of the situation.
This was the CM’s first visit to the district since the outbreak of AES.
Following his visit, Kumar announced a series of directions to be taken in view of the deaths.
He had announced reimbursement of the travel expenses borne by the patients and also ordered the conversion of SKMCH into a 2500-bed hospital, which currently has only 610 beds.
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) had on Monday sent notices to the Union Health Ministry and Bihar government over the rising death toll.
Meanwhile, Harsh Vardhan and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey have been named in a case filed in a court in Muzaffarpur district on charges of negligence leading to the death of the children.
Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) is a severe case of encephalitis transmitted by mosquitoes. It is characterised by high fever and inflammation of the brain.
With the number of deaths rising every single day, social media users are livid with strong messages targeting several key functionaries, including Chief Minister Nitish Kumar, while others have even asked for their resignations.
Meanwhile, in view of the rising encephalitis deaths in Bihar, state Health Minister Prem Kumar has ordered a probe to investigate if consumption of the litchi fruit is leading to the deaths.
An AES outbreak is normally reported during the litchi harvest season in summer, although till date, it has not been officially verified that the virus is caused by the fruit.
Muzaffarpur is known as the litchi hub of the country.