New Delhi: Even as the death toll because of Acute Encephalitis Syndrome (AES) mounted in Bihar’s Muzaffarpur, Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan on Monday refused to comment on them. The death toll due to the disease increased to 100 in Muzaffarpur on Monday, stated Sunil Kumar Shahi, the Superintendent at Sri Krishna Medical College and Hospital (SKMCH).

Earlier on Sunday, to take stock of the situation, the Union Health Minister had visited the families of the children suffering from AES in Muzaffarpur and assured them of all possible help from the Centre. Upon reaching the hospital with his deputy Ashwini Kumar Choubey and Bihar Health Minister Mangal Pandey, Harsh Vardhan reportedly said, “I assure the people of the area, especially the affected families, that the government will extend all possible help and measures to the state government.”

The state government officials, on the other hand, maintained that a majority of the victims had died due to hypoglycemia, a condition caused by a very low level of blood sugar and electrolyte imbalance.

After visiting the families at the hospital, Vardhan conducted a meeting with senior officials and doctors. Attributing heat and humidity as a possible reason behind the disease, the minister said the Ministry of Earth Sciences would help formulate an action plan with the state government to deal with the situation. He added that the India Meteorological Department’s observatory in Muzaffarpur will be upgraded.

Vardhan further urged the health officials to expedite and complete the super speciality block of the SKMCH, so that other departments of the facility could extend help and cooperation in tackling with the disease. Notably, Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar expressed grief over the deaths and announced Rs 4 lakh ex gratia to the next of the kin of the deceased, stated an official release.

(With agency inputs)