After Durga Puja celebrations, Bengal reports steady Covid surge for third consecutive day

Although the state’s positivity rate improved from 2.52% on Thursday, at 2.10%, it is still higher than the national average. (File)

West Bengal’s Covid-19 caseload surged for a third consecutive day as the state recorded 846 fresh cases and 12 fatalities in the past 24 hours, the health department said in its daily bulletin.

Experts have attributed the sudden spike in caseload to rampant violation of Covid-19 norms as crowds thronged pandals during the just-concluded Durga Puja. Health department officials admitted that the surge was an expected fallout of the festivities, but added that the true picture would become clearer after a fortnight.

Bengal’s overall Covid-19 caseload now stands at 1,584,492 cases, while the death toll has gone up to 19,033, the government said in the bulletin.

Of the 846 fresh cases, Kolkata recorded 242. Although the state’s positivity rate improved from 2.52% on Thursday, at 2.10%, it is still higher than the national average. The positivity rate was 1.6% on August 20 and 1.9% on September 20. According to a Union Health Ministry bulletin, India’s daily positivity rate was at 1.20%, while the weekly rate was at 1.24%.

State health department sources told The Indian Express that a significant portion of fresh cases in the city were those who had completed their vaccine dose. Experts have repeatedly warned against post-vaccination complacency and urged people to follow Covid-appropriate behaviour, including wearing masks and ensuring physical distancing.

However, the health department sources said the bulk of the fresh cases were asymptomatic.

Atin Ghosh, a member of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation board of administrators, told The Indian Express that a large section of people did not follow Covid-19 norms during Durga Puja.

They did not wear masks while pandal hopping and were careless, Ghosh said. The civic body has already cancelled leaves of all officials in anticipation of a rise in cases.

However, Ghosh said there was some relief that the numbers didn’t rise as much as they had anticipated. He added they would have to wait till next Tuesday for a clearer picture to emerge on the surge.

Assuming that cases could rise after the festivities, the state government had already started preparations and identified safe homes within Kolkata and nearby districts. The health department and the civic body are now arranging special safe homes for children and their mothers.

Ghosh said a quarantine centre and two safe homes for mothers and children would be opened from Saturday in Kolkata. If children are affected, their mothers should also be admitted, he added.

Another reason being attributed to the rise in cases is the reopening of testing centres, most of which were shut during the festivities.

At present, West Bengal has 7,577 active cases, while the discharge rate stands at 98.32%. The state has tested 40,303 samples since Thursday.

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