Stating that the West Bengal government "is moving at a faster speed than COVID", the state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha today said, "In a state of 10 crore people, we have 660 who are seriously ill. Now tell me, by any standard, is it a very big number? This is not a very serious issue. We are very, very capable of handling this. There is no way we will not be able to handle this situation."
His comments came just hours before the state's released the daily bulletin that put the number of new cases at a record high of 2198, pushing the number of active cases to 15,594 and total cases to 40,209. In the last 24 hours, 27 people have died, taking the total number of deaths to 1076 in the state.
Kolkata continues to be the worst hit, the number of new cases surging to 648, 85 more cases than yesterday 563 along. Number of deaths in the city too are spiralling.
A matter of concern, the dipping discharge rate of 58.54 and a positivity rate that inched up to 5.83 today.
"The more we test, the more cases will come. That may cause panic. That's why, look at figures in slightly more detail," Mr Sinha said earlier, adding, "We have 14,709 active cases. 72 per cent cases are asymptomatic. That's more than 10,000 cases. Those with mild symptoms are 15 per cent. Or 2,200. Moderate is 8.5 % or 1250. Serious is 4.5 per cent or 660 case....the government is in control and there is no need to panic."
But the chief secretary's comments also came a day after the Ministry of Health of Family Welfare in Delhi wrote to the Bengal health secretary expressing concern about rising cases, increasing trend in positivity and the number of people dying every day in the state.
"West Bengal is reporting almost 1600 cases daily and 93 % of the total active cases were reported in the last 4 days," Mr Lav Agarwal, joint secretary MoHFW, said in his letter to Mr NS Nigam, Bengal's health secretary.
"Over all testing remains very low vis a vis the national average. An increasing trend in case positivity rate in the last 3 weeks is also a cause of concern," he added. Some phrases were in bold.
He called for renewed effort to suppress transmission and keep case fatality rate below 1 per cent.
Among suggested steps:
- trace at least 80% close contacts of new cases and quarantine within 72 hours of case confirmation
- conduct hospital wise fatality analysis and video conference on appropriate clinical management
- conduct rapid audit of hospitals, create hospital grid and dashboards to monitor real-time status of bed utilisation
- Achieve minimum of 140 tests per million per day
- Test asymptomatic and mild symptomatic cases
The chief secretary said there was no shortage of beds in the state but 15,000 more beds would be added to existing ones by 31 august. Facilities there would be enhanced with dedicated oxygen cylinders, dedicated doctors, 24x7 ambulance service and links with a COVID hospital.