With one more child dying of suspected AES in Muzaffarpur on Sunday morning, the death toll of children in the district rose to 83 this month, even as Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar announced an ex-gratia of Rs four lakh each.
Kumar expressed grief over the children’s death in Muzaffarpur and ordered payment of Rs four lakh as ex-gratia to the next of the kin of the deceased, an official release said.
He also directed the officials of the Health Department and the district administration as well as doctors to take all possible measures to tackle the disease. The chief minister prayed for a speedy recovery of the children suffering from suspected Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES).
A press release issued by the Muzaffarpur district administration said till Sunday 9 am, 83 children had died at the state-run Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH) and the Kejriwal Hospital, which was run by a trust.
According to the release, 69 children had died at the SKMCH, while 14 died at the Kejriwal Hospital due to suspected cases of AES.
Officials, however, maintained that a majority of the victims, most of whom were below 10 years of age, had fallen prey to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance.
Since June 1, 197 children were admitted to the SKMCH while 91 were taken to Kejriwal Hospital with suspected AES, but most of them were found to be victims of hypoglycemia.
Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan is scheduled to visit Muzaffarpur on Sunday to take stock of the situation. He will hold meetings with doctors and officials of both the central and state governments.
Vardhan is also scheduled to hold a review meeting with the officials of the Health and other departments concerned of the state government in Patna later in the day.
He will be accompanied by state Health Minister Mangal Pandey during his visit to Muzaffarpur.
Union Minister of State for Home Nityanand Rai, who is also the Bihar unit chief of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), visited the SKMCH on Saturday.
He expressed grief over the deaths and cancelled all the functions for welcoming him in view of the brain fever that has taken a heavy toll on children’s lives.
Principal Secretary (Health) Sanjay Kumar had said a few days ago that the disease had affected 222 blocks in 12 districts, especially in Muzaffarpur, Vaishali, Sheohar and East Champaran.
A team of experts from the Centre visited Muzaffarpur on Wednesday.