The number of new Covid cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday was lower than the daily new cases reported just before Puja but doctors warn it could be misleading because the number of tests conducted had dropped sharply during the festival.
Several hospitals in the city have reported a rise in admissions over the last two weeks, raising concerns of a possible surge in the next fortnight.
The state health department’s daily Covid bulletin showed only 102 and 127 cases reported on Wednesday and Thursday, Ashtami and Navami, respectively.
A closer look at the bulletin showed that only 18,811 Covid tests were done across the state on Wednesday and 21, 217 on Thursday. This was much less than the number of tests on weekdays before Puja — above 35,000 on most days.
“We should not feel relaxed or elated at the number of new cases reported on Ashtami and Navami. People generally do not want to get tested during a festival unless the symptoms become serious. This is why the number of daily Covid tests dropped during Puja,” said a senior official of the Calcutta Municipal Corporation who is a doctor. The CMC conducts Covid tests in many of its clinics.
The daily new cases reported on Monday (Sashthi) and Tuesday (Saptami) were 180 and 203. The daily new cases reported for five consecutive days before Monday was between 155 and 166 on all days except Sunday, when the number was 145. The number of tests conducted on Sunday was lower than the other days.
Admissions to hospitals were a matter of concern, however. At Belle Vue Clinic, there were 22 Covid patients on Saturday. A month ago, it had eight patients. The hospital added 10 general beds for Covid patients on Saturday.
Peerless Hospital had 30 Covid patients on Saturday. A month ago, the hospital had 20 patients. “We are admitting between six and eight new Covid patients almost every day. Since the discharge rate is also very high, the total number of patients is not rising further,” said Sudipta Mitra, chief executive officer, Peerless Hospital.
Beleghata ID Hospital had 34 Covid patients at noon on Saturday. About a fortnight ago, it had around 25 patients admitted on most days. “The rise in admissions is because of the crowding in the days leading to Durga Puja. The impact of the surge of people during Puja will become clear in about 10 days,” said Anima Halder, principal, Beleghata ID Hospital.
AMRI Hospitals had about 60 patients admitted in its three units for the last few days. A month ago the number was 45. Rabindranath Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences had 27 Covid patients admitted in the hospital on Saturday. A month ago the hospital had only 15 patients.
Public health experts said the picture would become clearer in the coming days as those who avoided tests during Puja could start getting tested.