At a time when COVID pandemic seems to be on the wane across the country, Kolkata has reported a sudden spike in cases with the state capital emerging as the “district of concern”.
Union health secretary Rajesh Bhushan expressed his concern through a letter to the West Bengal government, asking the state administration to act fast before it is too late.
“West Bengal has reported 20,936 new cases and 343 new deaths in the last 30 days, accounting for 3.4% of India’s new cases and 4.7% of new deaths. One of the primary districts of concern is Kolkata,” Bhushan wrote in a letter to Bengal state health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam.
Health experts say the violation of safety protocols during the Durga Puja is to be blamed for the spike in COVID-19 cases.
Bhushan quoted from national level data to say that Kolkata district has reported high quantum of average daily new cases in the week ending October 21 along with more than 25% increase over the past week.
The state capital recorded a 27% increase in test positivity rate (TPR) – a rise from 5.6% in the week ending October 14 to 7.1% in the week ending October 21). Besides, testing has gone down significantly, which needs to be increased, said Bhushan.
Bhushan said that cases are bound to rise if basic public health strategy (testing, tracking, treatment, Covid appropriate behaviour and vaccination) is not followed to the hilt.
“The current trends increasing daily new cases and case positivity, if left unchecked may lead to a situation where there is a severe strain on the health infrastructure and health workforce,” Bhushan added.
With the upcoming Diwali festival in view, Bhushan said, “Regular review of COVID-19 cases and deaths must also be undertaken, and necessary corrective measures should be promptly communicated to the field teams. Lastly, it should also be ensured that the district maintains consistency in data up-dation in the Covid-19 portal,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Kolkata Police have increased vigil with an intention to compel people to wear face masks. A total of 446 people were booked on Sunday (October 24) and 419 on Monday (October 25) for not wearing masks. The vigil much stricter in the first half of September when the Kolkata cops penalised about 800 people every day. The number came down to about 300 daily in the first week of October, gradually coming down to about 250 during Durga Puja.
Over, the situation in West Bengal state has improved slightly. On October 25, 805 new COVID positive cases were recorded, 184 less than the count registered the previous day, stated the state health department.
Post-Durga puja, 974, 846, 833 and 867 new infections were recorded on October 23, 22, 21 and 20 respectively.
West Bengal’s caseload stands at 15,87,260 on October 25, against 15,79, 463 cases on October 15. A total of 11 patients died on October 25, taking the state’s death toll to 19,066.
As on October 26, Bengal has 7,869 active cases and the recovery rate stands at 98.30%.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation has swung into action, cancelling leaves of health department staff and increasing COVID testing.