With the return of migrant labourers to West Bengal and the subsequent spike in coronavirus cases, the state government has decided to set up 15 more Covid-19 hospitals across the state, an official said on Tuesday.
The decision was taken even as the state health department announced 10 more Covid-19 deaths and the highest single-day increase in positive cases, with 396 new cases of infection.
At present, the state has 69 Covid-19 hospitals —16 state-run and 53 private medical facilities — with 8,785 beds, 920 ICU beds and 392. According to the Health Department, most of the 15 new hospitals will come up in districts such as Darjeeling, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Uttar Dinajpur, and Malda since north Bengal has fewer such hospitals compared to the state’s southern districts.
The region reported 58 of the new cases on Tuesday, with only North 24 Parganas district (74 cases) and Kolkata (116 cases) reporting more. North Bengal has seen a surge in cases in the past few days. Till now, Uttar Dinajpur has recorded 166 cases, Malda 143, Cooch Behar 118, Darjeeling 38 and Alipurduar five cases.
Among the south Bengal districts on the list for the proposed medical facilities are Murshidabad, Nadia, Hooghly, Howrah and Birbhum, said an official. Till date, Howrah has reported 1,156 infections, Hooghly 344, Birbhum 166 cases, Murshidabad 103, and Nadia 99 cases.
“There is a dearth of Covid-19 hospitals in north Bengal. Cooch Behar and Alipurduar do not have a single dedicated hospital yet. So, at least three to four hospitals are urgently required there,” said a senior Health Department official.
“In Cooch Behar, 118 people have tested positive for Covid-19 till date, and all of them have been admitted to Siliguri General Hospital. In future, if the number of cases increases, it will be extremely difficult to handle the situation. So, we decided to increase the Covid-19 specialised hospitals in these districts,” the officer added.
With more than five lakh migrant labourers having returned to the state and lakhs more are scheduled to arrive, the government has also decided to increase the number of quarantine facilities in every block.
A government official said, “After migrant workers started coming to the state, we recommended home quarantine for those who are asymptomatic. However, those who showed symptoms will need to stay in institutional quarantine. We told all the district administrations to increase the number of quarantine centres as required.”
Meanwhile, with the 10 deaths announced by the state government on Tuesday, the toll increased to 263. If deaths due to comorbidities are taken into account, the toll is 335.
According to the state health department bulletin, in which figures are updated till 9 am, the total number of positive cases climbed to 6,168 with the latest surge in infections. Kolkata and North 24 Parganas were followed by Howrah with 49 cases, Hooghly with 38 infections, Cooch Behar with 31 cases, Bankura with 13, Paschim Medinipur with 12, and Darjeeling with 11 cases. Eight more patients were found in Dakshin Dinajpur, seven each in Uttar Dinajpur and Nadia, six cases each were reported from Purba Medinipur, Birbhum and South 24 Parganas districts, five cases were detected in Murshidabad, four in Purba Bardhaman, two in Purulia district, and one in Malda.
The silver lining was provided by districts such as Kalimpong, which remained the only district with no positive cases since April 2, Jhargram — it has not recorded a single case in the last five days — and Alipurduar, Jalpaiguri and Paschim Burdwan, which had zero cases in 24 hours.
A senior IAS officer in the state administration said, “We are very much worried that the single-day jump has almost touched 400 mark in a day. So, we should be more cautious in identifying new cases, and then in following the isolation or quarantine processes.”
According to the health bulletin, 104 people were discharged from hospitals in 24 hours, taking the number of recovered patients to 2,410. The number of active cases increased to 3,423.
The health department said it had tested 9,495 samples in 24 hours, taking the cumulative number of specimens examined to 2,22,726. The government said 17,804 people were still in government quarantine facilities, while 1,46,538 remained quarantined at home.
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