Coronavirus | West Bengal doctors call for increased testing, caution

Devotees immerse an idol into the Ganges river, on the last day of Durga Puja festival, amidst the spread of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19), in Kolkata, October 26, 2020.   | Photo Credit: REUTERS


Doctors in West Bengal have called for increased COVID-19 testing and caution during this crucial period between the just-concluded Durga Puja and festivals that are round the corner.

“In West Bengal, the number of cases vis-a-vis the number of tests has remained almost static since the last few days. But the number of cases in five worst-affected districts [Kolkata, North and South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly] remains to be a matter of concern. We need to really increase tests all over the State. It is a pity that till now we could test about 44,000/day, and even less in the last couple of days,” Dr. Koushik Chaki of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum told The Hindu.

Also read | In Kolkata, empty pandals and roads mark Durga Puja

“Awareness among people is sadly far less than expected. A section of people did not follow the restrictions imposed by the Calcutta High Court, and now a few more festivals are about to come,” he said.

A clear picture about the impact of the Durga Puja celebrations on the COVID-19 situation is yet to emerge, considering only three days have passed since the festival ended. Even though the celebrations, by and large, remained muted, some of the popular pandals in Kolkata as well as neighbouring towns ended up drawing large crowds despite restrictions. And now doctors are concerned about Deepawali, when many end up bursting crackers despite strictures.

Bursting of crackers

“Deepawali is a festival of lights and firecrackers, and COVID-19 is a disease mostly involving airways, so situation will be terrible if strict rules are not enforced for avoidance of crackers. Another matter of concern is huge political rallies that are taking place. Organising them in the midst of a pandemic is not only an offence but also sends a very wrong signal to the common people. We condemn this and request all political parties to show restraint,” Dr. Chaki said.

“Also, with the winter season approaching, we need to be more vigilant. Countries in Europe have already started to face a fresh wave of infections, more lethal than before. Trace, test, isolate — this remains the key. Social norms need to be strictly imposed and those not complying should be penalised. The medical fraternity is struggling against all odds and their patience and capacity are stretching too tar. We need to take visible, proactive steps — mere lip service won't suffice,” he said.

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Printable version | Jan 16, 2021 3:01:54 AM |

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