The daily new Covid cases in West Bengal crossed 400 for the first time in more than four months but doctors and health officials said the focus should be on how many people were being hospitalised.
In the same breath, they said people should be careful and the elderly and those with comorbidities need to be protected.
West Bengal recorded 406 Covid cases and one death on Tuesday, according to the state health department. The rate of positivity was 4.74 per cent. Only a few weeks ago, it was less than 1 per cent.
On Tuesday, 50 Covid patients were being treated at hospitals across the state. Four of them are requiring oxygen support, said an official in the health department.
Doctors and health officials said the focus should be on the number of Covid patients in need of hospitalisation to better understand whether the variant fuelling the current surge is of concern.
“It has been observed that across the world, the present variant of the virus is causing mild infections. Whether it is the same in Bengal will be known through close observation,” said Chandramouli Bhattacharya, infectious disease expert at Peerless Hospital.
“In the present situation, the focus should be on how many Covid patients are being admitted in hospitals, rather than the number of infected people. This will help us analyse whether there is a need for serious concern.”
He, however, cautioned people to take all measures to protect the elderly and those with comorbidities.
Hospitals said they were implementing Covid norms once again, though the rate of hospitalisation of people infected with the coronavirus was low.
“Considering that the severity of the disease is still low, the focus should be on the rate of hospitalisation, rather than the positivity rate. But we are continuing to be alert and implementing Covid norms,” said R. Venkatesh, regional director, east and south, Narayana Health.
The group's hospital in Mukundapur, the RN Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences, will bring back restrictions on the number of visitors from Monday, said Venkatesh.
He said the hospital had allocated an eight-bed isolation unit for Covid patients. Only one patient was admitted there on Tuesday.
Medica Superspecialty Hospital held a meeting on Tuesday where it was suggested that a patient should be accompanied by only one person. The hospital decided that patients with fever or respiratory infection and those turning up for ENT and maxillofacial or dental procedures must be tested for Covid.
“We are implementing several norms as a precautionary measure,” said Alok Roy, chairman, Medica group.