Climate Change

Severe cold kills five in 24 hours in Bihar, including two kids

Doctors report uptick in heart attack, brain stroke cases in three government hospitals

By Mohd Imran Khan
Published: Thursday 25 January 2024
Photo for representation: iStock

Bihar has been shivering under the impact of an intense cold wave since last week, which claimed the lives of five people in 24 hours, including two schoolchildren. The state has reported over a dozen deaths this month as a result of the extreme cold. However, unconfirmed reports speculate that the total number of deaths could be much higher.

India Meteorological Department, Patna issued cold day and cold wave warnings for 26 districts and orange alert for the remaining 12 districts on January 25, 2024, said officials of the state disaster management department. Icy winds are forecast to blow across the state and there will be no respite from the extreme cold for the next two to three days.

The IMD defines a cold wave in terms of minimum temperatures. When the minimum temperature in the plains is 4 degrees Celsius or less, or when the minimum temperature is less than 10°C and 4.5°C-6.4°C below the normal, a cold wave is declared.

Meanwhile, a cold day occurs when the minimum temperature falls below 10°C and the maximum temperature falls by 4.5°C or more below the average.

A severe cold day was recorded on January 24 in Gaya, Patna, Darbhanga, Jamui, Buxar, Vaishali, Nawada, Siwan and Samastipur districts. A cold day was recorded in Gopalganj, Rohtas, Kaimur and Aurangabad districts. Minimum temperatures in Gaya went as low as 4.5°C on January 24 — lowest in the state. Other districts recorded minimum temperatures in the range 6-8°C.

On January 24, class VI student Mohammed Qurban (12) in Muzaffarpur district died after complaining of sudden shivering while in school, according to reports from across the state. He was admitted to a local hospital where he passed away.

Muzaffarpur District Magustrate Patnav Kumar said he was informed about the death of a school student due to a cold and another student fainting in school. The local panchayat head and the leader of school teachers’ association demanded compensation for the poor parents.

Among the other deaths, Ranvir Kumar (7) died in Lakhisarai district; an advocate died in Arwal district; a farmer in Buxar district and an old man in Saran district.

Several school students also reportedly fell ill and a few fainted due to the cold in the last three days. One student fell unconscious in school in Sheohar district on January 24 and was immediately rushed to the local hospital.

Dense fog continued to affect normal life and disrupt air and rail traffic, officials said. In the wake of cold conditions and dense fog, roads wore a deserted look in the mornings and evenings. The number of vehicles on the roads has also decreased and people have been forced to remain indoors.

Alongside the severe cold conditions, the state has also seen an uptick in health emergencies. In the last three weeks, more than 500 patients with heart attacks and strokes were admitted to three government-run hospitals, Indira Gandhi Institute of Medical Science (IGIMS), Indira Gandhi Heart Disease Institute and Patna Medical College Hospital (PMCH).

“Every day, more than 25 to 30 patients with heart attacks and brain strokes are admitted to the IGIMS and PMCH. However, no such patients have been recorded in dozens of private hospitals in Patna,” according to a health department official.

Dr Ravibhusan of IGIMS’s heart department stated that the number of patients has increased in recent days due to the severe cold. “Our ward is full, there is no space,” he said. Dr Sanjay Kumar of PMCH concurred about the situation at his hospital.

Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar has directed the disaster management department to arrange bonfires for the poor.

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