Patna: As Bihar reels under a spike in COVID-19 cases, personnel of the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) have fanned out to more than half a dozen badly affected districts of the state, armed with protective gear and skills to share with local medical teams.
Known for their yeomans service during calamities like floods that ravage parts of the state every year, the NDRF personnel were seen in action on Friday at Panjwar village of Raghunathpur block in Siwan district where more than 20 people, all members of the same family have tested positive.
Siwan district has emerged as a COVID-19 hotspot with close to 30 cases, tested positive for the novel coronavirus on Friday, taking the statewide total to 60, officials said.
Local news channels have beamed images, captured by drones deployed by the state administration, of NDRF personnel spraying disinfectants on the deserted streets of the village
where bamboo barricades have been placed at regular intervals to ensure that the lockdown is strictly enforced while the inhabitants complete the quarantine period.
“We have deployed 15 sub-teams each of comprising six rescuers in seven districts of Bihar upon the request of the state disaster management department. Our men are at work in Siwan, Begusarai, Nawada, Gaya, Munger, Patna and Nalanda districts”, Vijay Sinha, Commandant of the 9th Battalion of NDRF at Bihta on the outskirts of the state capital, said.
Notably, among the aforementioned districts Munger and Patna at present have no active cases though these were the two worst-affected by the pandemic till a fortnight ago with six and five COVID-19 cases respectively.
Munger was also the place to which the states sole deceased COVID-19 patient, who breathed his last at AIIMS, Patna on March 21, belonged.
“Our personnel are fully equipped with PPE and other necessary equipment and in addition to active participation in preventing the spread of the infection through sanitization with approved chemical solutions, they are training the local medical personnel. In fact, as per the directions of NDRF DG S N Pradhan, the 9th Battalion had launched a training cum awareness programme at the airports in Patna, Gaya and Ranchi on March 1 this year”, Sinha said.
Movement of flights in the country came to halt with the nationwide lockdown announced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, invoking the National Disaster Management Act, which came into force with effect from March 25.
“Our men are also reaching out to villagers in other parts of the state with food packets since the peoples movement is obviously constrained in view of the lockdown. We are also distributing face masks and hand sanitizers among those involved in keeping the streets clean, whose services are obviously salutary in such times but who face health hazards because of the nature of their work”, he added.