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UP and Bihar step up testing amid reverse migration

UP and Bihar have stepped up testing as well as increased the number of beds for Covid-19 patients as the return of millions of migrant workers to their native states has led to a surge in active cases.

, ET Bureau|
Last Updated: May 22, 2020, 01.37 PM IST
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New Delhi | Lucknow: Uttar Pradesh and Bihar have stepped up testing as well as increased the number of beds for Covid-19 patients as the return of millions of migrant workers to their native states has led to a surge in active cases.

“Return of migrants is a challenge,” UP’s health minister Jai Pratap Singh told ET. He said the number of isolation beds in UP has been increased to 78,500 from 52,000 and the aim is to take it to 100,000 by the end of this month.

The UP government has decided to double the capacity of beds in the level-1 or the first-stage facilities. ET has accessed an order which said preparations be done to have at least 50,000 such beds ready from 25,000 at present, including identifying colleges, schools, hostels and government buildings for such purpose.

“With cases increasing daily and most of them being asymptomatic, districts can see a sudden surge in cases. Hence, to deal with any situation, we have to prepare 25,000 extra beds in L-1 facilities well in time,” UP’s principal secretary (health) Amit Mohan Prasad said in an order.

UP has more than 2,000 active cases, 1,230 of them being returning workers. More than 800 cases have been reported in the past three days, with testing to positive rate for migrants at 22%.

In Bihar too, the majority of the active cases are of returning workers, said officials. Out of 1,900 positive cases, which have tripled from 630 on May 10, 999 migrants have tested positive so far. The Nitish Kumar government, an order, has decided to distribute 41,000 VTM kits to aid RT-PCR testing in various districts – about 6,700 such kits have been distributed so far. “The distribution of VTM kits across districts will be done as per the rate of arrival of migrants in these districts from other states,” said the order.

Bihar has expanded its daily testing capacity to 2,800 from about 2,000 tests till a few days ago. However, only about 52,000 tests have been done so far in Bihar, among lowest in the country. “We were doing tests at only seven places so far but we have now increased our testing facilities to 14 places. We will start testing in 28 districts once we get machines and conduct 10,000 tests daily soon as per a new strategy given migrant influx,” said a senior state government official, who did not wish to be identified.

UP’s health minister said the state will increase its daily testing capacity to 10,000 from 6,500-7,000 samples at present, excluding pool testing which roughly adds another 3000 tests per day. “We also have placed orders for testing machines and when they arrive, we will be able to do 12,000-13,000 tests per day in June,” said Singh.

UP has received about 2 million workers since March 1 and the number is increasing by the day. Bihar will receive about 3 lakh migrants through special trains by Friday.

(Catch all the Business News, Breaking News Events and Latest News Updates on The Economic Times.)

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