Bengal sees Covid-19 cases spike; private hospital space fast shrinking in Kolkata

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Kolkata: The West Bengal government has re-imposed a strict lockdown in newly defined containment zones of Kolkata and other districts across the state following an alarming rise in Covid-19 cases. The lockdown came into effect from 5 pm today, a day when the state reported 1,088 fresh cases and 27 deaths, its highest ever 24-hour spike.

Incidentally, West Bengal was amongst the few states to have relaxed lockdown restrictions in the initial days Kolkata, the state capital, remains the worst affected district, with 322 new cases being reported on a 24-hour basis, or around 30 per cent of new cases. Businesses, offices, and all government and private establishments will remain shut in these containment zones, 25 of which are in Kolkata.

The city police has begun cordoning off these areas with guard rails, barricades, and bamboo structures. Public movement will be restricted in these areas and non-essential services will not be allowed. Entry and exit of people across these containment zones will be barred. Private hospitals treating Covid-19 patients have 191 vacant beds (or 14 per cent vacancy) out of a total of 1,368 available. Of these, 44 vacant beds are “satellite facilities”, the state health department dashboard mentioned in a July 9 update.

In all, 33 premier private healthcare hospitals across Kolkata and North 24 Parganas are treating Covid patients. Of the 80-odd government hospitals (across the state) treating Covid-19 patients, seven are in Kolkata. These hospitals have 553 vacant facilities (27 per cent vacancy) out of a total of 2,060 beds.

The total bed vacancy across state government facilities stands at a high 73 per cent (including Kolkata). Around 7,737 beds were vacant as of July 9, as against a total availability of 10,658. As on Thursday, West Bengal recorded a total of 25, 911 confirmed cases with 854 deaths. Of these, nearly 80 per cent people had co-morbidities, the state health department bulletin said.

The state’s discharge rate also dropped to 64.93 per cent on July 9, from a high of over 66 per cent. Total testing (per day) hovers around the 10,500-11,000 mark. Apart from Kolkata, neighbouring districts or Howrah, North 24 Paraganas and South 24 Parganas have emerged as new hotspots having quite a large number of containment zones and have reported a high incidence of infections. North Bengal districts such as Malda, Uttar Dinajpur and Darjeeling, which had very few cases and were once called green zones, now have high incidence of infection.

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