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HomeHealthAs Covid cases surge, Centre asks West Bengal to step up testing,...

As Covid cases surge, Centre asks West Bengal to step up testing, bring down fatality rate

Bengal has reported 40,209 cases and 1,076 deaths. It’s conducting 6,790 tests per million, while its average positivity rate for the last 7 days is 13.18%.

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New Delhi: The central government has written to West Bengal, flagging the rising number of Covid-19 cases in some districts and high fatalities in the under-50 age group.

The Centre has asked the state to target a fatality rate of 1, take measures to address the fatality rate among younger individuals, and test all close contacts of at least 80 per cent of new cases within 72 hours of being reported.

Bengal has also been asked to use a lockdown to step up containment, surveillance and testing, though the state government has made it clear that it is not considering a re-imposition of a complete lockdown.

In the letter, addressed to Bengal’s principal secretary (health), Union health ministry joint secretary Lav Agarwal wrote: “West Bengal is reporting almost 1,600 cases daily and 93 per cent of the total active cases in state were reported in the last four days. Kolkata, Howrah, 24 Parganas (North) and 24 Parganas (South) as well as emerging hotspots in Jhargram, Purulia, Nadia, Medinipur East, Hooghly and Nadia need immediate attention.

“Owing to increasing number of cases observed in Kolkata, there is need to develop a robust strategy to contain the spread of infection. The overall testing remains very low vis-à-vis national average. An increasing trend in case positivity rate in the last three weeks is also a cause of concern.”

Sources said similar letters have been sent to all other states that are currently lockdown.


Also read: 22 states match WHO standard of 140 Covid tests/day per million, Gujarat & Bengal lag behind


Bengal’s current Covid status

West Bengal is conducting 6,790 tests per million, lower than the national average of 9,795. Its average positivity rate — number of samples that came positive out of the total tested — over the last seven days stands at 13.18 per cent.

The state has so far reported 40,209 cases and 1,076 deaths, with a case fatality rate of 2.6 per cent, slightly higher than the national average of 2.5 per cent. It has over 650 containment zones.

Agarwal’s letter said “to keep mortality less than 1 per cent, weekly case fatality needs to be monitored”, and advised the state to undertake hospital-wise fatality analysis and guide places with high death rates through videoconferencing with a 24-hour support team from AIIMS, New Delhi.

Agarwal added that as the state specifically is experiencing high fatalities in the under-50 age group, there is a need to focus on IEC, or ‘information, education, communication’, to get all age groups to adopt Covid-appropriate behaviour.

Bengal has also been asked to step up Covid testing, and test all asymptomatic high-risk contacts and those with mild symptoms, according to the ICMR testing protocol.

The state was part of a video conference organised by the Centre last week for states seeing a surge in cases. States were asked to use the lockdown to step up containment and contact-tracing.


Also read: Covid recovery rate in Bengal dips sharply in last 2 weeks, experts unable to find reason 


 

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