KOLKATA: Record 54 more people died of COVID-19 in West Bengal on Tuesday, taking the state's toll to 1,785, as per a bulletin issued by the Health Department.
The state also witnessed its highest single-day spike of 2,752 new cases, following which the tally rose to 80,984, it said.
There are 23,315 active cases in the state at present, it added.
Total 2,066 people recovered from the disease in the last 24 hours, improving the discharge rate to 70.24 per cent.
Since Monday, 22,321 samples have been tested in the state.
While Kolkata reported 15 new deaths, 14 fatalities were reported from the North 24 Parganas district.
Six persons each died in Howrah and South 24 Parganas.
Four deaths were reported from Darjeeling while two deaths each happened in Dakshin Dinajpur and Hooghly districts, it said.
One death each was reported from Purba Bardhaman, Nadia, Murshidabad and Malda districts.
Fifty-one of the latest deaths happened due to comorbidities and COVID-19 was incidental, the health department said.
Most of the new cases were reported from Kolkata where 719 people tested positive, followed by 596 cases detected in North 24 Parganas, 233 in South 24 Parganas and 190 in Howrah.
So far, 56,884 people have recovered from the disease.
Meanwhile, an officer of the Kolkata Police of Assistant Commissioner rank tested positive for COVID-19 during the day, besides a policeperson posted at the Bankshall court, official sources said.
Both of them have been hospitalised.
All those who have come in contact with them have been asked to go on home isolation and to undergo tests if they experience any symptoms, a senior officer of the Kolkata Police said.
The West Bengal Health department has written to the ICMR requesting it to change its guidelines on "immediate retest" of a person who has tested negative in antigen test for COVID-19, a senior official said on Tuesday.
In this season of flu, there are people who are negative in antigen tests at several fever clinics but as per the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) guidelines they should be sent for the RT-PCR test immediately, he said.
"We have a different opinion on this, we think, a person who has tested negative in antigen tests, be sent for the Reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) test after a gap of at least three days and not immediately. We believe that the total viral load will show up by then proving the antigen tests conclusive," the official said.
"We have written to the ICMR stating our observations and thus requested them to initiate a change in the guideline for retests," the official, who is also part of the Covid protocol committee said.
According to the official, who is also a medical practitioner, doctors at fever clinics in medical colleges and hospitals in the state need not immediately prescribe RT-PCR test but should look for clear symptoms of COVID-19 infections.
"Doctors at fever clinics are prescribing RT-PCR tests at random. but instead of prescribing a patient to go for RT-PCR test, they must look for clear symptoms like cough, breathlessness or loss of appetite and smell apart from fever. The patient can be a non-Covid-patient at a time when we are also having patients suffering from flu," he said.
He said several patients who took the RT-PCR test at different fever clinics were found to be suffering from flu and not the coronavirus.
Since last week, antigen tests are being conducted in medical colleges and hospitals in the city and neighbouring districts.
Around 50,000 antigen test kits have been distributed to all medical colleges and hospitals in the city and in the neighbouring districts.
West Bengal till Monday has reported 78,232 COVID-19 cases and 1,731 coronavirus deaths.