An official communication by an additional district and sessions judge in Bihar has shed light on the mishandling of Covid-19 patients in the state, apart from the carelessness with which senior officials of the state government are tackling the pandemic. The judge, Tribhuwan Nath, who was inspecting the isolation wards set up in the district, found that the patients were being served food from a local hotel—the same hotel that was catering to other residents of the area. The judge also discovered that doctors and officials were roaming around the isolation wards without wearing any PPE suits as they were not provided with such suits. Tribhuwan Nath, who is the district and sessions judge of Sheohar district in north Bihar, was inspecting the Covid-19 quarantine ward set up in a girls’ school.
He found that no community kitchen facility was set up for the five Covid-19 patients who were recuperating there. In fact, the school staff were purchasing the patients’ food from a local hotel. The same hotel was also delivering food packages to engineering students staying in a nearby hostel. The judge found that there was no community kitchen, which was otherwise supposed to function from the school premises. The local officials, who reached the spot after getting to know of the arrival of the judge, told him that no such community kitchen had existed in the past and there was no plan, or order, to establish one. The officials further told the judge that the doctor, who was supposed to check the quality of the food, had never come to the facility and the food packets were being given to the patients without any scrutiny. Even greater surprise was in store for the judge when local officials started turning up at the isolation centre without wearing any protective gear.
They were not even wearing masks or gloves, leave alone PPE suits. The police officials who were deputed to guard the isolation centre too were not wearing any masks or gloves. When the judge entered the isolation ward, he found that the two doctors there were wearing masks, but not PPE suits. When the judge asked them the reason behind it, he was told that there was a “shortage” of PPE suits. The judge inspected the isolation facilities on 24 April. His letter was sent to the District Magistrate, Sheohar; Additional Chief Secretary, Home (Bihar); and Secretary (Health), Bihar on the same day. The Daily Guardian reached out to Bihar Health Minister and senior BJP leader Mangal Pandey seeking a response from the state government on these glaring lapses, but did not receive any response. The MP from Sheohar is Rama Devi of BJP, while Mohammad Sharfuddin of the JDU is the MLA.