Covid-19: Third wave fear prompts push for more tests in Bengal
The Bengal health department has directed all district administrations to increase the number of Covid-19 tests because of the possibility of a third wave of the pandemic and cases of Delta and UK variants being reported in the state.
Apart from testing, health officials have been asked to increase vaccination mainly with a target to finish the second doses pending in the state.
“It has been found that the number of Covid tests have decreased in districts after the slump in cases during the second wave of the pandemic. Every district and testing centres have a specific target to test persons for Covid but many districts are meeting only half of it,” said a senior health official.
After two north Bengal districts — Darjeeling and Kalimpong — reported cases of Delta and UK variants of Covid-19, East Midnapore also logged a case of Delta variant on Wednesday.
Sources said the East Midnapore district health department had sent 27 samples of Covid-19 cases for genome sequencing earlier this month to Kalyani’s National Institute of Biomedical Genomics, in which a Delta variant was confirmed.
However, the UK variant of the novel coronavirus has not been reported in south Bengal.
Worried over the cases of Delta variant emerging in Bengal, the state government has directed districts to take necessary measures immediately to control it.
The East Midnapore district administration has called a meeting of 223 gram panchayat chiefs immediately after the district reported the Delta variant.
“Delta spreads fast and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has declared it as a variant of concern (VOC),” said a health official.
Bibhas Roy, the East Midnapore chief medical officer of health, said he had directed increased tests after the variant was found in the district.
“We are very serious after a sample was found positive with the Delta variant. We have asked officials to increase the number of tests,” said Roy.
Health officials in several districts said though the state government had asked them to increase tests, there was shortage of testing kits across Bengal.
“Drive to vaccinate tourists coming to tourist spots like Digha was taken and it was decided that random tests for Covid would be carried out. But practically, it has not been possible because of the lack of kits,” said health official in Nandigram health district.
The situation at other tourist destinations in the state is no different.