Kolkata sees dramatic dip in daily COVID-19 cases, restrictions relaxed

Representational image. File

Representational image. File

West Bengal, particularly its capital Kolkata, has witnessed an overnight dramatic drop in the number of daily COVID-19 cases, making the city breathe easy and encouraging the State government to ease some of the restrictions imposed to contain the COVID-19 pandemic.

Only on Sunday, the number of new cases reported for Kolkata and the whole of West Bengal stood at 3,893 and 14,938 respectively. By Monday, these figures had dropped to 1,879 and 9,385 respectively.

On Monday evening, the State government allowed opening of gyms up to 9 P.M. with 50% capacity, provided staff and users were fully vaccinated and COVID-free. The staging of the jatra, too, has been allowed with up to 50% seating. Film and TV crews can also now return to work as long as they follow COVID-appropriate protocols.

“The overall situation is not too bad. Hospitals did not get overwhelmed. In fact, beds are available. One or two COVID patients may be on the ventilator, but otherwise those on the ventilator are mostly patients who came to the hospital due to other illnesses but became COVID-positive because this strain is highly infectious,” leading ENT specialist Dr. Arjun Dasgupta told The Hindu .

“With the restrictions being relaxed, people seem to be slowly getting their confidence back and the numbers may rise again, but the general situation at the moment is not too bad,” Dr. Dasgupta said.

Book fair postponed

Also on Monday, it was announced that the Kolkata Book Fair would be postponed by a month. The event, which could not be held last year, was to be take place from January 31 to February 13 but will now begin on February 28 and last until March 13.

“Due to the third wave of the pandemic and due to the corporation elections being deferred to the middle of February, the 45th International Kolkata Book Fair is being rescheduled as advised by the Chief Minister and the Chief Secretary. Booklovers, publishers and authors are quite happy with the new dates,” said Tridib Chatterjee, honorary general secretary of the Publishers & Booksellers Guild, which organises the fair.

Many of the small publishers, who are concentrated around College Street and who rely heavily on the book fair for sales and promotion of their titles, are relieved about the postponement.

“The atmosphere at the moment is that of uncertainty — it may not have been the best time to hold the fair. By February-end we will have a clearer picture — and hopefully a better situation — and far more people might turn up for the event,” said Antara Bhattacharjee, who runs Palok, a Bengali publishing firm.

“The past two years have been very difficult for publishers like us. The income was nowhere close to the investments we made, we could not publicise our new titles, we could not promote our authors. We hope to see a turnaround in our circumstances during the book fair,” Ms. Bhattacharjee said.

The book fair, which will pay tributes to several personalities who passed on in the recent past, including Soumitra Chatterjee, Sankha Ghosh, Buddhadeb Dasgupta and Buddhadeb Guha, will now have a new name added to that list: of Narayan Debnath, the iconic illustrator who died on Tuesday at the age of 96.

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Printable version | May 20, 2022 12:24:48 am |