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Monday, August 03, 2020

As Covid cases surge, a slow and steady increase in Bengal’s fatality numbers

In July, the average number of deaths in the fourth week doubled in comparison to the first. However, experts said in July, due to an increase in caseload, the death figures shot up.

Written by Atri Mitra | Kolkata | Published: July 30, 2020 9:19:34 am
west bengal coronavirus latest update, west bengal lockdown guidelines, bengal coronavirus fatalities, bengal coronavirus deaths, bengal news The coronavirus containment zone at Razabazar in Kolkata. 

Not only an increase in caseload, but a spurt in the number of deaths was also recorded in Kolkata and its four neighbouring districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

In July, the average number of deaths in the fourth week doubled in comparison to the first. However, experts said in July, due to an increase in caseload, the death figures shot up.

However, the fatality rate in the entire state – that was more than 7% up to mid-June — decreased significantly, and stood at less than 3% at present.

In the first week of July, 136 people succumbed to Covid-19 and the average death was 19. As many as 267 people died in the fourth week, taking the average to 38. Meanwhile, in the second and third weeks, the number of deaths was 176 and 202 respectively, while the average was 25 and 29 respectively. In total 1,449 people succumbed to Covid-19 till July 28. As many as 668 people died from March-end to June 30, and 781 from July 1 to July 28. More than 90% of these deaths were recorded in the five districts of Kolkata, North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas, Howrah and Hooghly.

On the other hand, the overall fatality rate has significantly decreased with an increase in the number of testing. Up to July 28, as many as 44,405 patients tested positive for Covid, while the toll was 781. So, the overall fatality rate from March to July 28 was 2.3%, while that in the four weeks of July 28 stood at 1.75%.

A senior state health official said, “It is very significant that there has been a spike in the number of deaths with an increase in caseload. We are trying to minimise panic among people about the pandemic. Only elderly persons with co-morbidities and other complications are vulnerable to Covid. Only a small percentage of patients is admitted to hospitals at present.”

However, doctors are not much concerned with the increase in toll. Virologist Amitava Nandy said, “When the total caseload will decrease, the number of deaths will also decrease. It is not a matter of concern if the number of deaths decreases in terms of number of patients being hospitalised. If things are opposite to that, then we have to worry about it.”

Nandy added, “It is very difficult to calculate the number of deaths in respect to the number of patients being admitted to hospitals.”

Cardiologist Kunal Sarkar said, “Every death is very unfortunate. But during a pandemic, we always calculate death per million population as the fatality rate is a false indication of toll figures. In India, earlier the death rate was 12 per million population, but it has increased gradually in July. It now stands at 18 per million population. In West Bengal, the situation is comparatively better. Previously, it was 16-17 per million population and now, it has decreased to 12-14 per million population.”

He added, “The death rate per million population is very high in Delhi and Mumbai.”

General Secretary of Association of Health Service Doctors, Manas Gumta, identified three causes behind this increase in the number of deaths. “The primary cause is with the beginning of unlock, community spread started. It is expected that more people will be infected, which will raise the toll. Secondly, to save those infected, we need to arrange a huge number of High Flow Nasal Oxygen (HFNO) facilities in our Critical Care Unit (CCU). We don’t have adequate number of CCU beds. A large number of patients are waiting for CCU facilities. Thirdly, many are scared of social stigma and being isolated in the society. So, they visit hospitals only when their condition turns critical. Many die even before reaching hospitals.”

Meanwhile, the Covid-19 toll in West Bengal is about to touch the 1,500-mark. On Wednesday, the state recorded 41 deaths, pushing the total number of deaths till date to 1,490. In the last five days, 200 people died succumbed to Covid-19 in the state, according to the health bulletin published by the State Health Department.

In the last 24 hours, Bengal recorded 2,294 new positive cases, following which the total caseload shot up to 65,258. However, the number of patients discharged was 2,094. With this, the total number of recovered patients rose to 44,116. The discharge rate increased to 67.60%, while the number of active cases was 19,652.

According to the health bulletin, the total number of samples tested in the last 24 hours was 17,144. The cumulative number of samples tested till date stood at 8,56,355. The percentage of positive cases in respect to the number of samples tested was 7.62.

According to the Health Department, 3,385 people were still in government quarantine, while 32,280 were in home quarantine. As many as 1,422 people were kept in safe homes.

Out of 2,294 cases recorded in the last 24 hours, Kolkata recorded the highest increase with 688 cases, followed by North 24 Parganas (554), Howrah (258), South 24 Parganas (108), Hooghly (74) and Bankura (59). More than 75% of patients infected belonged to these districts. In North Bengal, Darjeeling recorded 62 cases, Dakshin Dinajpur 58, Uttar Dinajpur 53 Alipurduar 38 and Maldah 36 cases recorded in the last 24 hours.

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