KOLKATA

Masks up, more Covid tests as uptick alarms health department

Concerned over the gradual uptick in daily coronavirus cases in West Bengal, health officials have swung into action to test more people and ensure strict adherence to Covid-19 protocols at public places.

The daily spike rose from 283 cases on Sunday to 323 cases on Thursday before settling to 290 on Friday. At least 13 people have succumbed to the virus this week. According the state bulletin, the state has 3,297 active cases. Experts feared that the number of cases would further surge in the coming days given an increasing number of political and social gatherings.

Security officers at airports and Metro stations have been asked to strictly penalise passengers flouting Covid-19 protocols such as social distancing and wearing masks. On Kolkata Metro trains, no one without masks is being allowed to travel.

“Along with international passengers, anyone coming from Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Telangana have to produce negative RT-PCR test reports as per the state directive. Apart from this, we started a drive on Monday under which five people have been fined for not wearing masks. Covid protocols are being followed strictly,” said Airport Director Kaushik Bhattacharya.

Airports are being sanitised regularly and PPE kits properly disposed of. “PPE is important to protect ourselves & its disposal is even more crucial for you & fellow travelers. While leaving Kolkata Airport, look for bio waste bins placed in arrival hall & dispose PPE kits, face shields, used mask in the dustbin,” the Kolkata airport tweeted.

The Health Department recently held a meeting with chief medical officers of health (CMoHs) and directed them to take measures against the surge. As per sources, health officials were asked to give more emphasis on RT-PCR tests and contact tracing.

In the last week of December last year, the state was constantly testing around 40,000 samples for the Covid-19 virus. The number nosedived to 13,370 on Monday before inching upwards to 20,425 on Saturday. A health professional cautioned, “There has been a steady rise in the number of Covid cases in Bengal. With people taking part in social gatherings, political rallies, weddings, the chances of a further increase in cases are quite high. At political gatherings, we hardly see people following Covid protocols.”

Meanwhile, the vaccination continued to get an overwhelming response from elderly citizens. In the third such instance in a week, more than 2 lakh people were vaccinated on Friday.

“As many as 86,418 people took the first dose and 14,004 the second dose on Thursday… Total 29.53 lakh people have been vaccinated,” said Director of Health Services Dr Ajay Chakraborty.

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