A 50-year-old Indian Army brigadier was among the 16 people who died of Covid-19 in the state Thursday. With these fatalities, the toll rose to 699, even as the case count increased by over 600 for the fourth straight day.
Brigadier Vikas Samyal, who is the highest-ranking defence officer till date to have succumbed to the virus, was posted at the Eastern Command headquarters here. According to officials, he was initially admitted to the military hospital in Barrackpore after testing positive.
Later, he was shifted to the Command Hospital as his condition deteriorated. He is survived by his wife and two daughters, all three of who recovered after contracting the virus.
In a statement, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee and the government expressed “deep condolences” about the “untimely passing away” of Brigadier Samyal.
The bulk of the deaths and infections till date have been reported from the city, which has the most containment zones, and the neighbouring districts of North 24 Parganas and Howrah. Of the latest 649 new infections that took the total case count to 19,819, as many as 436 were detected in these three districts, while 58 more were found in South 24 Parganas, the other district adjoining the capital city. Fourteen of the latest fatalities occurred in these four districts, while the other two were reported from Hooghly.
The administrative response to the pandemic has been repeatedly criticised by the Opposition, and last month the Supreme Court reprimanded the state government. Though the state’s active caseload was decreasing in the middle of last month, it started climbing back up again in June last week even as the recovery rate stagnated after a massive surge the week before that. On Thursday, the active case count crossed 6,000 for the first time, settling at 6,083. Two weeks ago, on June 18, it was 5,216 and on a downward curve.
On Thursday, people in Kolkata’s Ultadanga police station area blocked a road, accusing the authorities of not helping with the cremation of a 48-year-old owner of a sweet shop who developed respiratory problems the evening before and died after suffering a cardiac arrest.
According to this family, the health department and the police did not assist them when they sought their help to cremate the body on Wednesday night since his Covid-19 test results were awaited. The cremation was delayed even after the test results were received on Thursday morning, forcing local people to take to the streets around 1 pm. The police and the corporation then intervened, helping the family cremate the body. The victim’s shop was sanitised in the evening.
According to the health department bulletin, in which figures are updated till 9 am, 10,405 tests were conducted in 24 hours, taking the cumulative number of samples analysed to 5,08,001. The test positivity rate jumped from 3.85% the day before to 3.9%.
Meanwhile, the Home Department said the government’s “safe home” policy was unique and innovative. At present, 345 people are in 106 such shelters.
“GoWB has introduced an innovative, pioneering and unique concept of safe homes to cater to the needs of asymptomatic /mild symptomatic patients who are allowed, as per ICMR guidelines, to stay in home isolation. but who do not have space or care giving facilities at homes. Safe Homes are isolation facilities with proper boarding and lodging arrangements in a sanitised environment where regular health monitoring is provided for. Safe Homes are mapped with dedicated Covid hospitals. where the patients may be shifted in an emergency. State has created 106 Safe Homes with 6,908 beds. The facilities are free of cost. This also helps in having more beds available in Covid hospitals to cater to the Covid patients with moderate and serious symptoms,” the department added.
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