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Covid growth continues to slow in Bengal, but drop in testing a concern

The state recorded 422 deaths, eight more than previous week, with the seven-day rolling average of fatalities hovering about 60.

By: Express News Service | Kolkata | September 28, 2020 2:47:03 am
West Bengal coronavirus cases, West Bengal covid cases, coronavirus cases Kolkata, West Bengal covid death toll, India news, Indian ExpressFlouting social distancing norms, several gather at the Mallikghat flower market in Kolkata on Thursday morning.

Covid-19 infection growth in West Bengal has declined over the past several weeks, and it continued this week too. But, the decline in the number of tests is a cause of concern.

The seven-day rolling average number of cases was around 3,180, while the weekly average growth rate dropped to 1.4 per cent from last week’s 1.58 per cent. The doubling rate of infection — calculated over seven-day average growth — jumped from 44 days to 49.5 days.

The state recorded 422 deaths, eight more than previous week, with the seven-day rolling average of fatalities hovering about 60.

The testing numbers, however, have been fluctuating. Two weeks ago, the number of samples analysed had dropped compared to the week before. Last week, testing increased by just over 9,000 to 3,20,460. But this week it dropped again as 12,321 fewer tests were conducted.

The increase in the weekly test positivity number amid this fall in testing is alarming. A week after registering a marginal decline, it increased from 6.99 per cent to 7.23 per cent. Though the overall test positivity rate dropped below 8 per cent on Saturday for the first time in two months, it is still among the highest in India.

Of the 22,288 new cases recorded during the week, about 56 per cent were in the south Bengal epicentre around Kolkata.

Earlier this month, there was a noticeable decline in the infection growth in this region even though a bulk of the cases were still reported from here. In North 24 Parganas, two weeks of decline had brought down active cases from above 5,000 to 4,239. But, the active caseload is now up to 4,967.

The infection growth has picked up in Kolkata too. While three weeks ago it had 4,294 active cases, it is now up to 4,944.

In Purba and Paschim Medinipur districts, active cases dropped this week, but they are still over 1,100. Worryingly, these two districts reported 46 deaths, 10 more than last week.

A glimmer of hope emerged from Malda and Darjeeling in North Bengal as active cases dropped after a week of surge. Malda now has 436 patients, down from 638 on September 20, while Darjeeling has 698 patients, down from 812.

Meanwhile, state BJP Mahila Morcha president Agnimitra Paul has tested positive for Covid-19.

Paul has been touring districts to lead protests against the Trinamool Congress, and attended party events at the state BJP headquarters earlier this week.

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