The week ended on a distressing note for West Bengal as it recorded the highest-single day increase in Covid-19 infections and fatalities for the second straight day on Sunday. This came on a day India overtook Russia to become the third-most affected country in the world.
The West Bengal health department reported 895 additions to its caseload, and 21 deaths. With this, the total number of infections rose to 22,126, and the toll climbed to 757.
Over the week, which saw a record five highest daily spikes in cases, the state added a massive 4,843 infections to its caseload, and reported 118 deaths. This surge in cases amounted to a weekly average infection growth rate of 4.03%, which had declined to 3.42% the week before (June 22-28). The doubling rate of infection — calculated over seven-day growth — fell from 20.5 days the week before to 17.5 days.
While Kolkata, and two of its adjoining districts North 24 Parganas and Howrah — the epicentre of the pandemic in the state — continued to report a bulk of the cases and deaths (80% of the week’s fatalities, and 66% of the cases), Malda district in the north remained a cause concern like the previous week. The upward trend of infections also continued in Murshidabad, and Uttar and Dakshin Dinajpur districts adjoining it.
Through the week, Malda added 233 patients to its case load, and reported three fatalities. As of Sunday, it had the highest active caseload (307) in North Bengal. The neighbouring districts of Uttar Dinajpur and Dakshin Dinajpur saw a weekly increase of 79 in its caseload, while Murshidabad district added 52 cases.
During the week, the situation seemed to improve in Darjeeling, which has reported the most fatalities in the region, as 118 people were released from hospital on Friday. However, a consistent increase in cases (175 cases were recorded during the week) dented the recoveries in the district. At the start of the week, the district’s active caseload was 215, and by Friday it fell to 125. However, it has picked up again since then, and on Sunday it was 163.
The glimmer of hope in the region as well as the state was provided by Coochbehar, which has one active case at present. The situation also remained stable in Kalimpong, which had six active cases on Sunday, like at the start of week. In Alipurduar district, the active caseload fell from 64 to 10. Meanwhile, Jhargram district in Medinipur administrative division on Sunday reported its first case since June 14.
The state’s problems have been compounded by slowing of the discharge rate, which decreased marginally to 66.48 per cent on Sunday. While the week before the discharge rate had increased by over 4 percentage points, this week the increase was 1.06 percentage points. According to the health bulletin, in which figures are updated till 9 am, 545 patients were discharged from hospitals in 24 hours, taking the total number of recovered people to 14,711.
The health department said 11,016 tests were conducted in 24 hours, taking the total number of specimens examined to 5,41,088. The weekly positivity rate increased to 6.19% from 4.95% the week before. The daily positivity rate on June 29 was 3.74%, and it climbed consistently through the week to settle at 4.09% on Sunday even as the health department increased its testing capacity from 5,316 tests per million at the start of the week to 6,012 on Sunday.
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