West Bengal on Sunday reported a record 2,278 Covid-19 cases and 36 deaths in 24 hours, bringing an end to a week that saw it add 12,374 infections to its caseload and 180 fatalities to the toll.
The state’s total case count at the end of the week stood at 42,487, following an increase of almost one percentage point in the weekly average growth of infection. The doubling rate of infection — calculated over seven-day average growth — sped up from 14 days the previous week (July 6-12) to 12 days this week. The toll on Sunday was 1,112.
With no sign of the infection and fatality curve dropping, the state government extended the lockdown in containment zones till July 31.
“DMs may take a view on continuing lockdown: town-wide or zone-wise depending on the local situation. They can do it for five to seven days. State-wide containment zone-based lockdown continues till July31,” read an advisory from the home department.
While over 75 per cent of the week’s infections and more than 90 per cent of the fatalities were reported from the South Bengal hotspot — Kolkata; its adjoining districts North 24 Parganas, Howrah and South 24 Parganas; and Hooghly — the situation remained alarming in North Bengal.
The situation in the region forced the government to impose total lockdown in five cities in the region from July 15. While Malda continued to report a bulk of the cases, Dakshin Dinajpur (456) reported more cases than Darjeeling (430) during the week, emerging as a source of concern for the health authorities. Its cases increased a massive 137 per cent in this period.
The situation was somewhat better in neighbouring Uttar Dinajpur district, where cases increased 37 per cent. At the end of last week, Uttar Dinajpur had an active caseload of 126, compared to 109 in Dakshin Dinajpur. The scenario kept changing through the week, and on Sunday Uttar Dinajpur’s active case count was 243, while it was 472 in its adjoining district, a rise of 141 from the day before.
In contrast, a glimmer of hope was provided by Alipurduar, which added 13 cases in the week and has 24 active cases at present; and Kalimpong, which added seven cases and has eight active cases now. In Cooch Behar, 48 new cases were added.
Down south, the weekly average growth of infection rose by almost two percentage points in Purba Medinipur, and five percentage points in Paschim Medinipur. Meanwhile, Jhargram, which had been Covid-19 cases, reported three cases during the week.
Apart from extending the lockdown, the government on Sunday also added 63 new areas to the list of “broad-based” containment areas, pushing up the count to 739. The number of such zones in Kolkata increased from 24 to 32. The city has recorded the maximum cases and fatalities since the pandemic began.
At present, North 24 Parganas district has the highest number of containment zones at 113, following the addition of 18 more areas, while South 24 Parganas has 67, up by 12, according to the state government’s website “Egiye Bangla”. Eleven new zones each were added to Nadia and Purba Bardhaman, taking the number of such areas to 65 and 82.
According to the official data, the state conducted 86,205 tests, 10,214 more than the week before. Its weekly positivity rate jumped from 10.37 per cent to 13.96 per cent. The recovery rate, which has been declining since earlier this month, fell 3.34 percentage points over the course of the week, and was 58.56 per cent on Sunday, despite a record number of patients being discharged on six days. On Sunday, 1,344 people were released from hospitals, taking the number of recovered patients to 24,883.