Kolkata

Doctors unsure if COVID situation in Kolkata can turn serious

A policeman stops a bike rider for not wearing protective face masks in South 24 Parganas, West Bengal, Thursday, Oct 28, 2021. | Photo Credit: PTI
Bishwanath Ghosh Kolkata 29 October 2021 02:45 IST
Updated: 29 October 2021 01:06 IST

Nearly two weeks have passed since Durga Puja but no explosion in number of cases

The medical fraternity is Kolkata appears to be still undecided whether the recently concluded Durga Puja festivities have trigged a situation that could build up to a crisis, considering that the number of COVID-19 are on the rise in the city.

But the general opinion is that another wave of the pandemic is unlikely because any explosion in the number of cases should have been evident by now, considering it is now almost two weeks since the last day of puja.

It’s a confusing situation indeed. While many travellers from abroad who’ve included Kolkata in their itinerary during their proposed visit to India in the coming months have put their plans on hold for the moment, schools and colleges in West Bengal are set to reopen from November 15.

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And while many districts across the State are once again following strict restrictions, with weekly lockdowns being imposed in neighbourhoods, there are no such guidelines specified for the capital city, except that buses now appear particular about not letting in passengers without masks and there is a curfew in place between 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. Life in Kolkata is, by and large, back to normal.

“To our utter dismay the Government and some puja organisers showed lack of sensitivity which, coupled with COVID-inappropriate behaviour of large sections of common people, has raised serious concerns among the medical fraternity. But despite the apprehensions, we think that because of vaccination, although the rate is well below par, and because of herd immunity, a third wave may be avoidable,” said Dr. Koushik Chaki who, as an active member of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum, has been vocal in his fight against the pandemic ever since its outbreak.

“But we urge all concerned to be on guard, considering that there was apathy shown by a section of common people and those in positions of power needed to be more careful and responsible. The sad part is that multiple communications by the medical community, including our organisation, fell on deaf ears. The sacrifices of hundreds of healthcare workers have sadly been forgotten,” Dr. Chaki said.

His colleague at the forum and ENT specialist Dr. Arjun Dasgupta said, “COVID wards are filling up again across the city but then, these wards themselves are scaled down versions of what they were during the second wave, when entire hospitals had turned into COVID wards. These wards filling up is a warning sign, but the good thing is that it is more than 10 days since puja and the number of cases has not gone up the way we had expected.”

On Thursday, the number of single-day cases reported in West Bengal stood at 990, positivity rate at 2.18%, and daily testing at 45,437.

“COVID-19 has shown a small but appreciable spike after the festive season. It is nothing when compared to the second or even the first wave, but it is noticeable,” said internal medicine specialist Dr. Rahul Jain, who has personally attended to over 3,000 COVID patients.

“The disease has now become endemic and whenever and wherever there are congregations and there are people without masks, there will be a spike in the cases, albeit of a magnitude smaller than a wave — perhaps a ripple.”

He added: “We should all learn to carry on with life despite COVID-19 because we cannot pause all activity forever. We need to continue with our activities wearing masks — there’s no escaping wearing masks for at least another six months. Anywhere in the world, you will notice that the moment masks come off, there is a spike in the number of cases.”

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