Even though Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee cancelled leaves of all health officials in North Bengal in the wake of Encephalitis attack, which has claimed many lives over the past few weeks, the outdoor and fever clinics of North Bengal Medical College and Hospital remained close on Tuesday on account of Eid.
Agitated with the closure, patients and their relatives staged a protest outside the hospital, from where two deaths were reported on Tuesday. Encephalitis also claimed two lives in Coochbehar. Sources from the state health department said that with the four deaths, toll due to the disease climbed to 124.
To assess the enormity, Union Health Harsh Vardhan is sending a team of experts headed by Union health secretary to north Bengal. “We will provide all kind of help to the state government, even though the health issue is a state subject. I will review the situation tomorrow (Wednesday). My team will submit a report to the health department after assessing the situation there. If the state government needs more vaccine and doctors, we are ready to provide them. We are concerned even if there is one death,” he said.
However, state officials claimed supply of kits from Pune’s National Institute of Virology (NIV) was irregular. They added that the ‘crisis’ had prompted them to use state funds to procure kits directly from the supplier NIV got the kits from.
“We were not getting kits from the Centre, so we started procuring them from our own funds. Moreover, we are setting up Encephalitis centres in Coochbehar, Jalpaiguri, Birbhum, Midnapore and Malda. From these areas, infected people do not need to send samples to North Bengal Medical College and Hospital,” said Dr B Satpathy, director, health services. Satpathy held meetings with the district administration in Coochbehar on Tuesday. The health services director added that eight persons were detected with Encephalitis syndrome on Tuesday.