Spike reflects Mamata’s rail concern
Bengal on Thursday reported 344 new Covid-19 cases, the highest intra-day test count that suggested chief minister Mamata Banerjee’s fears on the railway ministry’s alleged unilateral and haphazard return of stranded migrant workers were not unfounded.
Before Thursday, Sunday’s 208 new cases was the highest intra-day rise but that was attributed to the clearance of backlog in laboratories hit by Amphan.
As many as 321 (or 93 per cent) of the 344 new cases reported in 24 hours till 9am on Thursday were from districts where several migrants had returned.
Calcutta reported a rise of 87, Howrah 55, North 24-Parganas 49 and North Dinajpur 46.
The Bengal chief minister has been among the most vocal against the rushed return of the migrant workers, organised by the railway ministry.
On Wednesday, Mamata said that after the state got a grip on the pandemic, the railways, allegedly without consulting the state government, arranged for tens of thousands to be sent back in a matter of days. The chief minister had sought the intervention of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah.
Bengal had proposed to bring back the migrants in 225 special trains but spread out — with no more than 10 trains daily — till June 15.
Others, such as Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan, too, have been airing similar concerns over the railway ministry’s alleged behaviour.
The Centre, particularly railway minister Piyush Goyal, has been focusing on picking fault with the Opposition-ruled states, complementing an effort by the local BJP to politicise the fight against the pandemic.
With the 344 new cases, Bengal’s total active Covid-19 cases rose to 2,573, which was 1,745 a week ago and 522 a month ago.
The rise in new cases negated the impact of 90 new cured cases — the total number of cured novel coronavirus patients is 1,668 now — and resulted in a decline of the recovery rate, from 37.64 to 36.77 in a day.
The number of deaths directly from the pathogen, with six more in 24 hours, touched 223 in the state.