North Kolkata is catching up fast with its southern counterpart in terms of Covid spread as the case load continues to mount throughout the city and other parts of Bengal.
A recent Indian Institute of Science (IISc) and Indian Statistical Institute (ISI)-driven analysis shows that Bengal’s daily infection number may reach a plateau in the third week of January with a value in the range of 35,000 to 55,000 depending on the susceptibility of population.
The collaborative study by IISc and ISI, ‘Omicron Projections January – March 2022’ was carried out by scientists Siva Athreya, Rajesh Sundaresan and team.
Kolkata, the major trigger behind the state-wise surge, is currently the country’s table-topper in terms of Covid positivity rate – 60 per cent – after Upper Siang in Arunachal Pradesh, according to a recent release of the Union health ministry on the basis of data from January 5 to 11.
On January 13, the statewide figure was 23,467 with 32.13 per cent positivity — both higher than the previous day’s figure. Kolkata clocked 6,768 new cases.
Adjoining Howrah with 50.89 percent is the third highest in the country in Covid positivity, followed by Paschim Bardhaman and Birbhum, as four Bengal districts figure in the top six in the country.
“Cases have been rising all over Kolkata now,” pointed out an expert associated with the state health department. “From December 26 to January 8, traditional Covid-affected boroughs like 8 and 10 in South Kolkata have recorded more than 5,000 positive cases, increasing 10 to 13 times over the fortnight. However, even north Kolkata boroughs like 2, 4, 5 and 6, which had negligible cases in the earlier fortnight, have leapfrogged.”
The Covid count in North 24-Parganas is also rising sharply, and is now only second to Kolkata in terms of the overall affected in a day.
The number of Omicron cases in the state has also shot up more than 10 times within two days; from 27 on January 11 to 294 on January 13.
The Covid count in North 24-Parganas is also rising sharply, and is now only second to Kolkata in terms of the overall affected in a dayTT archives
“It’s a fact that cases are also rising in north Kolkata,” said Santanu Sen, a doctor and Trinamul MP. “The trigger (to the sharp surge) was the violation around Christmas and New Year celebrations, and the peak is likely to be reached soon.”
“Despite far less severe symptoms in the case of Omicron strain, the hospitals are still quite full. Moreover many people are not getting tested or maintaining Covid protocol, which is also adding to the spike,” said pulmonologist Arup Haldar.
Ajoy Sarkar, another frontline Covid physician, observed that though the hospitals are still full, the hectic pace of infection seems to be easing ever so slightly, “though it’s difficult to predict any plateau yet with the majority not getting tested and major super-spreaders like the Ganga Sagar Mela and elections coming up”.
The real infection numbers are almost certainly several times more than the official numbers. “We physicians feel that the actual number should be at least five times more than the official figure, as many people are not being tested,” alleged Manas Gumta, general secretary of the Association of Health Service Doctors in West Bengal. “After Kolkata, now the cases are spreading fast towards the districts and then we have the Ganga Sagar Mela and also the polls to contend with,” he added.