Post-Puja, Bengal sees small but steady rise in COVID-19 cases

Representational image.

Representational image.

West Bengal is witnessing a small but steady rise in the number of COVID-19 cases following Durga Puja festivities, with doctors divided on whether this should be a cause for alarm. But both sides agree that a clear picture will emerge in the next one to two weeks.

On Thursday, the number of daily cases recorded in the State stood at 867, compared to 726 on Wednesday and 690 on Tuesday. Positivity rate stood at 2.43% on Thursday and had even climbed up to 3% last weekend.

“Positivity rate had fallen to below 1% but it is rising again. This is clearly connected to the Durga Puja celebrations. We had cautioned the State government well in advance,” said Dr. Punyabrata Gun, convenor of the West Bengal Doctors’ Forum.

Dr. Koushik Lahiri, a founding member of the forum and a well-known skin specialist, said: “In contrast to other States, the positivity rate is rising in West Bengal. The next couple of weeks are going to be crucial. We are doing lesser number of tests but the number of cases is still over 800.”

This year, the scale of Durga Puja celebrations in West Bengal, particularly in Kolkata, was somewhere between that of the pre-pandemic days and of 2020, when the festival was muted due to heavy restrictions on mass congregation. This year, even though the court had once again declared pandals to be no-entry zones for the public, the restrictions that were followed were the ones that people had imposed on themselves.

Leading ENT specialist Dr. Arjun Dasgupta attributed the current rise in cases to the pre-puja shopping — when large crowds were seen in commercial hubs — and said the coming days would reveal whether pandal-hopping during puja was going to make things worse. “The relaxation that was given by the government should be tackled again. There should be an absolute restriction on mass congregation,” Dr. Dasgupta said.

Internal medicine specialist Dr. Rahul Jain, who has personally attended to a few thousand COVID-19 patients ever since the pandemic broke out, insisted that the rise in the number of cases was modest and that most patients showed only mild symptoms.

“We are seeing an increasing number of mildly symptomatic COVID cases who don’t need anything other than paracetamol and cetirizine. This shows that vaccination is working and has reduced the severity of the disease drastically. It was unthinkable earlier to find patients with multiple co-morbidities showing only mild symptoms,” Dr. Jain said.

He added: “The number of cases may increase but it won’t cause the same havoc as was created by the second wave. COVID has become an endemic now. It won’t go away soon but will turn into something like common cold. People will catch a milder version of it several times a year and get cured with only paracetamol and ginger tea.”

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Printable version | Jun 28, 2022 8:47:10 pm |