Bengal government to ramp up Covid tests to tackle rise in cases
The state government is planning to ramp up tests for Covid-19 across Bengal as the number of cases has started rising again, officials said.
The health department has decided to increase the number of RT PCR and rapid antigen tests for Covid from 10,000 to 20,000 daily across the state.
The ramp-up plan follows a recent spurt in the number of Covid-19 patients being admitted to hospitals. The state registered 628 new Covid-19 cases on Tuesday. On March 1, this figure was 198.
“Calcutta, which recorded 265 new Covid cases on Tuesday, should conduct around 3,000 tests every day. Now around 2,000 tests are being conducted. North 24-Parganas, which registered 145 new Covid cases on Tuesday, has been set a target to conduct 2,000 tests daily. South 24-Parganas and Howrah have to conduct 1,500 and 1,000 tests every day,” a health department official said.
The department is planning to involve more healthcare workers, who will go door to door to find out whether anyone has symptoms of Covid-19 and get suspected patients tested.
“The implementation might be difficult initially because many healthcare workers are also involved in poll duties. But, we are hoping to achieve the target,” the official said. “Private hospitals and diagnostic centres will be asked to increase testing. Doctors there will again be asked to send people with symptoms for testing.”
Gopal Krishna Dhali, the coordinator of the Covid-19 management committee of the state and head of the gastroenterology department at SSKM Hospital, said: “The tests are very crucial for contact tracing because a large number of people are now attending political rallies and meetings throwing caution to the wind. District officials have been asked to be more proactive in meeting the target of daily tests.”
With an increasing number of people across the state violating the Covid-19 norms and public health experts pressing the alarm button, the health department has scheduled a videoconference with district health officials on Wednesday.
“It is a two-pronged approach — increasing vaccination cover and conducting more and more tests for early detection. District officials will have to engage more of their health workers to get people with Covid-19 symptoms tested,” said another official of the health department.
Officials of the districts that went to the polls on March 27 — Bankura, Jhargram, Purulia and East and West Midnapore — have pleaded helplessness saying health workers were engaged in the poll process. Swasthya Bhavan now wants the workers to be more actively involved in getting people with symptoms tested.
Doctors at the Infectious Diseases Hospital in Beleghata said on Tuesday 30 Covid patients were in the facility, seven of them in the ICU and three in the high dependency unit. A week back, around 20 Covid-19 patients were in the hospital.
The number of patients admitted to other Covid-19 hospitals across the city, including MR Bangur Hospital, Calcutta Medical College and Hospital and SSKM, was increasing by the day, senior health officials said.
Some of these patients are from the three adjoining districts of Howrah, and North and South 24-Parganas.