"Manipulating COVID-19 Numbers": Tejashwi Yadav Accuses Nitish Kumar

According to the Bihar government 1,742 new COVID-19 cases were detected on Friday but the health department has claimed this is the result of two days of testing

Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has been accused of fudging COVID-19 data (File)

Patna:

The Bihar government is fudging data on coronavirus cases in the state, opposition leader Tejashwi Yadav alleged Saturday morning, pointing to inconsistency in figures relating to new cases.

Mr Yadav lashed out at Chief Minister Nitish Kumar for "playing havoc with the lives of 12.6 crore Biharis" and accused him of valuing his image over the lives of people in the state.

"In Bihar the highest single-day surge - 2,226 new cases, with positivity rate of 21.7 per cent (highest in India) - was recorded. To avoid making it to the headlines, the Chief Minister hid the actual figures and published half another day," Tejashwi Yadav tweeted.

"Nitishji is playing havoc with the lives of 12.6 crores Biharis. To avoid bad press, he is suppressing data. Is your image more important than the lives of our people, Mr Chief Minister," he said, warning lakhs of people would die if low testing levels continue.

According to the Bihar government's latest figures, 1,742 new COVID-19 cases were detected as on Friday. The health department has claimed this is the result of two days of testing.

The department said 901 cases had been detected on Thursday and 841 were reported Wednesday.

However, Mr Yadav has alleged that only half the number of cases actually detected on Thursday have been counted. According to news agency PTI, 1,385 coronavirus cases were recorded, taking the two-day total to 2,226 and the overall state total to 23,784.

Irrespective of the truth of Mr Yadav's claims, Bihar has reported a surge in COVID-19 cases over the past few days. On Tuesday the state reported 1,432 new cases - the fourth consecutive day with over 1,000 fresh infections.

In view of the alarming situation in the state, a three-member team from the centre will reach Patna Sunday. The team will be led by Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary (Union Health Ministry).

"The centre shall coordinate with state health authorities to review the existing situation and provide necessary support and guidance," the Health Ministry said in its statement.

Mr Yadav has pointed to the central team's visit as further evidence that the Nitish Kumar government is "manipulating COVID-19 numbers",

"COVID-19 testing in Bihar is the lowest in the country. The situation is bad. The state government is also manipulating COVID-19 numbers. The centre is sending a three-member team to review the situation," he was quoted by news agency ANI.

Bihar is testing around 2,600 people per million as compared to the national average of around 9,000.

The health department has said it tested over 10,000 samples per day for the past four days. However, in the same period, the positivity rate has gone up to nearly 13 per cent.

The coronavirus situation in Bihar has also led the state government to impose a 16-day lockdown that started Thursday.

With input from ANI, PTI