Coronavirus | Death toll in Bengal rises to 12

Left leaders hit the streets in protest calling for more testing

Updated - April 19, 2020 01:38 am IST

Published - April 18, 2020 10:16 pm IST - Kolkata

Leaders of the Left parties protest against the “failure of the State government to contain the spread of COVID-19, in Kolkata on Saturday.

Leaders of the Left parties protest against the “failure of the State government to contain the spread of COVID-19, in Kolkata on Saturday.

Two more deaths due to COVID-19 were confirmed by the West Bengal government on Saturday taking the death toll in the State to 12. The State’s Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said that 23 new cases of COVID -19 were recorded in West Bengal in the past 24 hours and the total number of active cases of the State as on April 18 has increased to 178.

State Helpline numbers | State-wise tracker | A map of confirmed cases in India

“The audit committee formed has confirmed two more deaths due to the viral infection. The death toll in West Bengal stands at 12,” Mr. Sinha said. According to the Ministry of Health Affairs, the cumulative number of COVID -19 cases since the outbreak of the disease in the State is 287, of whom 55 have recovered.

The Chief Secretary said the State was doing adequate testing. He said that there were reports that some labs could do as many as 1,000 tests in day but he clarified that no lab could do more than 100 tests in a day. Mr. Sinha added that a total of 4,630 samples have been tested in the State.

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“We have crossed the level of 400 sample testing per day. A new testing lab at the Malda Medical College and Hospital would become functional on Sunday with capacity of doing 50 tests per day, further increasing the number of samples that can be tested,” he said.

Street protest

Leaders of the Left parties, including the State Secretary of the Communist party of India (Marxist) Surjya Kanta Mishra and Left Front chairperson Biman Bose, hit the streets in protest against the “failure of the State government to contain the spread of COVID-19”.

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CPI(M) Polit Bureau member Mohd Salim, leader of Left Legislature party Sujan Chakraborty and leaders of other Left parties held posters and placards and stood at Red Road in the city. The leaders, who observed social distancing, demanded that the State test a larger number of people. They also said that there were irregularities in the distribution of rations to beneficiaries of the public distribution system. Kolkata Police arrested some of the leaders.

While Dr. Mishra alleged that the Trinamool Congress government was trying to stifle the voice of Opposition, Mr. Salim said that the Kolkata Police was itself violating norms of social distancing by putting so many leaders together. Upon being arrested by the police, Biman Bose said, “We were maintaining social distancing, but the police are not.” The leaders were released later in the day.

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