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West Bengal reels under COVID-19 third wave

The infection rate - 19 per cent - in West Bengal is highest in the country

kolkata-police-covid-ap A policeman reprimands a man for not wearing a face mask as people line up to enter a park on New Year's Day in Kolkata | AP

The COVID-19 situation in West Bengal seems to be going from bad to worse, with the number of positive cases going from 2,000 on Saturday to 9,000 today.

Doctors say that the Delta variant, alongwith the Omicron one, is causing the third wave of COVID-19. The bigger concern, however, is that 16 died today, which is the highest toll in recent months.

The Mamata Banerjee government has taken several measures to control the spread of the virus, including closing down schools and other institutions, and asking private organisations to encourage work-from-home.

While state Chief Secretary H.K. Dwivedi had attributed the rise in cases to travellers from Delhi and Mumbai, medics said that the gatherings in different parts of Kolkata from December 25 to January 1 were the main reason behind the spike.

The infection rate - 19 per cent - in West Bengal is highest in the country and the death rate is close to 1.2 per cent, which also considered high.

The state government had earlier limited flights from Delhi and Mumbai to twice a week, but revised the policy today to allow flights from Delhi and Mumbai thrice a week.

Containment zones and transport control have been brought back. The alrming COVID-19 situation in the state is also likely to affect the impending civic bodies poll slated to be held later this month.

"With only 4 crore taking the double doze, the state is bearing the brunt of complacency," said a senior doctor at a government hospital.

The opposition parties have come down heavily on the state government for the alleged mishandling of the COVID-19 situation in the state.

"Centre is providing vaccination, ration, and funds, but what has the state government done so far, other than diverting central COVID assistance funds to fight elections in other states," asked BJP national spokesperson and Darjeeling MP Raju Bista.

"Hundreds of doctors and other healthcare workers have tested COVID positive, and Omicron cases have exploded across the state once again. What steps have been taken to augment the healthcare sector? The situation in the state today is same as during the first wave; nothing has been done on the ground to stop the spread," he said.

Bista said that calling for random lockdowns and shutting down flights from Delhi and Mumbai alone are not going to control the spread of the pandemic. “ “There is an urgent need to spread awareness and speed up testing and vaccination drive,” he said.

Forty-seven thousand tests were done in the state today.

"The state government will need to immediately provide compensation to the small businesses, dailly wage earners for their loss of livelihood. They need to make provisions to support tea workers, taxi drivers, restaurant and hotel workers, tourist guides, travel operators and allied sectors," Bista said. 

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