April 4, 2021 6:10:10 am
More than 20 poll observers in West Bengal have tested positive for Covid-19 since the end of the second phase of the Assembly elections on April 1, Election Commission (EC) officials said on Saturday. The statement came even as the state reported over a thousand new Covid cases for the third straight day.
Sources in the Commission said some of the 20 tested positive before they joined duty while most were part of the poll process and are now in isolation. The observers will soon be replaced, they added.
Like the rest of the country, Covid-19 cases are again rising rapidly in West Bengal. On Saturday, the state health department said 1,736 new cases were recorded in 24 hours till 9 am. Five deaths — in Kolkata, Hooghly and North 24 Parganas — pushed up the statewide toll to 10,340. In total, 26,114 samples were tested in 24 hours, according to health officials.
Doctors have said the current rise in cases is alarming and the situation can worsen if proper preventive actions are not taken.
To stop the spread of the disease, the EC has mandated basic steps such as social distancing, thermal scanning, sanitisation, and the use of masks. Due to the pandemic, the polling body has brought down the number of maximum electors in a polling station from 1,500 to 1,000 and increased the number of polling stations. However, health officials suspect that Covid cases will rise further because of regular gatherings and political campaigning. They have instructed district administrations and the Election Commission to strictly adhere to safety protocols.
Meanwhile, state health officials said 1,562 vaccine sessions were held on Saturday. “Total 73,493 citizens have been vaccinated today [including first and second doses] and cumulatively 55.95 lakh people have been vaccinated so far,” said Director of Health Services Dr Ajay Chakraborty.
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