The centre has pulled up the West Bengal government for the rise in number of COVID-19 cases in Kolkata following huge crowds on the streets during the Durga Puja celebrations earlier this month.
The average daily new cases in Kolkata have been on the rise since the Durga Puja celebrations ended on October 15 — from 217 cases in the week ending October 14 to 272 cases in the week ending October 21, which is a rise of 20-25% in seven days.
Kolkata has reported almost 27 per cent increase in positivity rate in the past week, from 5.6 per cent in the week ending October 14 to 7.1 per cent in the week ending October 21.
Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan wrote to West Bengal health secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam on October 22 saying that Kolkata is one of the “certain districts in the country that have started showing a worrying trend in daily new cases and positivity rate in recent weeks.”
“With the ongoing festive season, it is crucial to emphasize the importance of Covid safety activities in order to maintain the collective gains made in the battle against the pandemic so far,” Mr Bhushan wrote, adding that necessary corrective measures should be promptly communicated to the field teams and data must be updated consistently.
Bengal has reported 20,936 new cases and 343 new deaths in the last 30 days, Mr Bhushan said in his letter. This accounts for 3.4 per cent of India’s new cases and 4.7 per cent of new deaths in the last 30 days.
The names of the other districts in the country reporting a rise in Covid numbers was not available, neither were the number of districts on the list.
The Kolkata Municipal Corporation had been on alert since October 18, cancelling all health department staff leave and stepping up Covid testing. It had earlier decided to reopen one quarantine centre and two safe houses but the chairperson of the corporation and Bengal minister Firhad Hakim on Monday lowered the alert level as Covid case numbers came down.
On October 22, 242 people tested positive in Kolkata, 200 were asymptomatic and 42 symptomatic. On October 25, Kolkata recorded 187 new cases, out of which 125 were symptomatic and 62 asymptomatic.
“We are not reopening any quarantine centre or safe house now. There is no need,” Mr Hakim said. “Over 50 per cent of people in Kolkata have got double vaccines. So most people are getting mild attacks and isolating at home,” he added.
Bengal recorded 806 new Covid cases today, out of which 248 were reported from Kolkata.
The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has underscored the need to keep testing, tracking, treating, vaccinating, and following Covid-appropriate behaviour and warned if the norms are not observed then the numbers will rise and the health infrastructure will be under stress in the state.
West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Monday had claimed that the new cases of COVID-19 infections in the state are mostly from among those who have been fully vaccinated but their immunity after being administered both doses is not exceeding six months. She had directed the state health secretary to take up the matter with the centre and seek to know the reasons behind it.