Post-Durga puja, Bengal sees a rise in Covid cases

Abhishek Law Kolkata | Updated on October 26, 2021

Kolkata and North 24 Parganas are among the two worst-hit districts

West Bengal is witnessing a steady upswing in Covid cases after Durga puja festivities, with Kolkata and North 24 Parganas being among the two worst-hit districts. On average, daily Covid cases are hovering between 800-1,000 since the end of Laxmi puja when puja festivities draw to a close in the State.

Daily Covid cases in the State have been rising since October 16 (a day after Durga puja) when 443 fresh cases were reported. With 2,001 active cases, Kolkata has the highest number of cases in the State.

On October 25, Bengal reported 805 fresh cases, with Kolkata and North 24 Parganas reporting 229 and 142 new cases. These two put together account for nearly 46 per cent of the total case load in the State – a statistic that has been consistent for major part of the pandemic.

Recovery rates remain high at over 98 per cent; fatality rates are less than 2 per cent, but positivity rates are slowly inching up. On October 25, it was 2.77 per cent because of low testing – only 29,000 tests were conducted against the pre-puja average of 35,000 to 40,000 tests per day.

Ministry raises concern

On October 22, the Union Health Secretary reportedly flagged off issues of low testing and the rise in Covid numbers.

West Bengal reported nearly 21,000 cases and 343 deaths in the last 30 days, accounting for 3.4 per cent of India’s new cases and 4.7 per cent of deaths in the same period.

About 27 per cent of West Bengal’s adults are fully vaccinated and 72.1 per cent people have received at least one dose of the vaccine, according to data available with the Union Health Ministry.

According to State government data, 2.95 per cent of the hospital beds earmarked for the disease are currently occupied, while 6,547 people are under home isolation.

“There is a weekend factor that comes into play. Plus, there were holidays. Generally testing falls. This is the first Monday after pujas when offices are opening up and people are venturing out. The next two weeks are when you watch out and see how the spread is happeing. If numbers continue to hover, say, even at 1,000 fresh cases a day, it is at a more manageable end,” said a senior government-empanelled doctor from West Bengal. “In absolute terms numbers are not that big,” he added.

Weekend spurt

Typically, in Bengal, Durga puja festivities end with Laxmi Puja, which was celebrated on October 20 this year. The first weekend after this – October 23 and 24 – saw the State report over 900 cases each day.

On October 23, Bengal reported 974 cases – the highest single day count in over three months since July 10 with the positivity rate shooting up to 2.26. On October 24, there were 989 fresh Covid – more than the day before – and case positivity rate shot up to 2.32 on account of higher testing.

BusinessLine reached out to Atin Ghosh, Administrator (Health) of the Kolkata Municpal Corporation, and Chandrima Bhattacharjee, MoS, Health, on the rise in cases, but were unavailable for comments.

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had, in a recent administrative meeting, claimed that majority of the fresh Covid cases were among the vaccinated and that immunity against Covid post vaccination stays only for six months.

“The city civic bodies and local authorities are mulling containment zones in select / worst affected areas. And studies are on to determine if majority of the fresh infections are amongst the vaccinated. However, I would still say the rise in cases needs to taken seriously. But it isn’t much cause for alarm yet,” a health department official added.

Published on October 26, 2021

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