While officials at Baghajatin State General Hospital claimed that 60 cases of diarrhoea had been detected on Monday alone and over 700 people had exhibited related symptoms over the last three days, the government said only 51 cases of “diarrhoea-like symptoms” had been registered during this period.
The statement comes in wake of allegations of contamination in the water supplied by Kolkata Municipal Corporation to parts of the city. “So far, 51 people have been diagnosed with diarrhoea-like symptoms in the city,” Director of Health and Services Ajoy Chakraborty told The Indian Express.
However, an official at Baghajatin State General Hospital, who refused to be named, told The Indian Express: “Sixty cases of diarrhoea had been detected on Monday… In the last three days, approximately 700 patients with diarrhoea-like symptoms have come to the hospital. While a major number of patients were discharged, many are still under treatment and a few were referred to other hospitals.”
Even as people from affected areas resorted to purchasing packaged drinking water as a safety precaution, Kolkata Mayor Sovan Chatterjee told mediapersons that officials could not find any problems with water samples collected from the affected areas. “If water was contaminated, it would have affected every person who consumed it. We had collected water samples, and after tests, no contamination was found. We are aware of the problem, however, the actual causes haven’t been ascertained till now,” he said.
Doctors in the city disagreed with the Kolkata Mayor’s statement that contaminated water would have affected everyone who consumed it. Those with low-immunity systems, such as elderly people and children, are more susceptible to the disease, they said.
A number of patients were referred from Baghajatin hospital to Beliaghata ID Hospital in Kolkata. “Total 22 people had come to our hospital, all were referred patients. Out of these 22, at least 10 were children of around 5 years of age. Most patients were from the south side of the city. They all are doing well and no one is critical. There is nothing to panic. About 10 people have already been discharged from my hospital. All had diarrhoea. We have sent our reports to the health department,” said Dr Uchchal Bhadra of Beliaghata ID Hospital.
Official sources said wards 101, 102, 107, 108, 109 and 110 of the KMC were hit, with 102 — comprising Jadavpur, Ramkrishna Pally, Chittaranjan Colony, Central Park, Kajipara, Baghajatin and other areas — being among the worst affected.
CPM councillor of ward 102, Rinku Naskar, said: “My ward has been badly affected, people are suffering from diarrhoea, nausea, vomiting and stomach pain. If municipality water wasn’t contaminated, then how are these people falling sick? Almost every family is suffering… Over the last three days, around 1,000 people were affected… Corporation health centres in Baghajatin alone have received more than 500 patients. The Mayor gave a clean certificate to KMC water. That might be correct, I don’t want to do politics over this. However… they must address the issue by first recognising it. Denying facts won’t help anyone. Water supply comes from Dhapa in my area. I think there must be some problem in the water supply, and the faster they diagnose it, the better it will be.”
Arindam Das, a grocery shop owner whose son is admitted at Beliaghata ID hospital, said his entire area was suffering from diarrhoea-like symptoms.
“My son had vomited thrice yesterday night and he was also having loose motion… A day earlier, my daughter was having stomach pain and we started buying packaged water for Rs 50 a jar. We are spending around Rs 250 on water which we should get free of cost. None of the people in our area is consuming municipality-supplied water.”
CPM leader Sujan Chakraborty said he met people in affected areas and that locals believe the cause of the outbreak to be contaminated water.
“There must be some water pipeline which must have gotten contaminated. I also spoke to the KMC Mayor, he sounded very confident that there was no problem with water pipelines. I would like to believe him, but he also has to consider one thing that when people of these areas are consuming purchased drinking water, the problem has reduced. I want civic bodies to identify the cause and source of the disease and supply water tanks to people so they can consume pure water. The government must ensure good treatment. Merely passing the buck and holding doctors responsible for mismanagement won’t work,” he told a TV channel.