The district health department of Alipurduar and the administration as a whole have earned appreciation from a team of senior officials of the state health department on a visit to north Bengal to take stock of the Covid-19 pandemic situation.
The team, comprising the mission director of National Health Mission in Bengal Saumitra Mohan, the director of health services (DHS) Ajoy Kumar Chakroborty and director of medical education (DME) of the state Debasish Bhattacharya, have appreciated the manner in which the situation has been dealt with in the district, sources said.
Unlike most parts of the state where the number of Covid-19 deaths are on the rise, the toll in Alipurduar remained relatively low at 13 so far.
So far, 2,019 people have been detected with the infection in the district. Among them, 920 have cured and another 1,162 are still under observation and treatment.
On Wednesday, a high-level meeting was held at Dooars Kanya, the district collectorate here, where the officials from Calcutta were briefed about the current Covid situation of the district.
“The way this pandemic has been handled in Alipurduar district has made it a model in the state. There had been excellent teamwork across all tiers of the administration and district health department, coupled with proactive decisions and arrangements. That is why the pandemic could be controlled here,” said Chakraborty, the DHS of the state.
Sources in the district health department said Alipurduar was the first district in the state to initiate preventive measures and safety protocols. Since January, steps like training health staff, making arrangements for medical inventories were taken. Also, the administration moved into the tea belt early, keeping in mind the vulnerability of the tea population as it is a common trend in tea estates to work in groups, whether in plantations or in factories.
“The tea population, managerial staff and others concerned were apprised in detail about the pandemic and the ways and means to prevent it from spreading in the gardens. This campaign turned out to be effective and so far, the rate of infection has remained low in tea estates. Also, even if we find some people flouting the safety norms in towns, those in gardens strictly adhere to norms,” said an official.
The health department took the task to set up health check-up camps at Jaigaon in the Indo-Bhutan border and Pakhriguri on the Bengal-Assam border to prevent the entry of any suspected Covid patient.
This apart, questions were raised over the transfers of Puran Sharma, the immediate past chief medical officer of health (CMOH), and Subarno Goswami, a deputy CMOH, from the district. “Both were instrumental in checking the spread of the contagion, yet they were transferred. The decisions have not gone down well with those who are associated with government healthcare in Alipurduar district and those who visited from Calcutta are aware of it,” said a source.
On Wednesday, a number of doctor organisations sent letters to chief minister Mamata Banerjee, requesting her to revoke the transfer order of these two health officials. The director of health services, when asked on the issue, dodged a direct reply. “One or two players can be changed in a team but that does not prevent the team from performing time and again,” he said.