KOLKATA: West Bengal is fearing a tsunami of Covid-19 infection after the Durga Puja festival.
The fear came from none other than veteran doctor Sukumar Mukherjee, who is a prominent member of Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s Global Advisory Board (GAB) that was set up to combat the Covid-19 pandemic.
Mukherjee and other health experts warned of a heavy surge in the new infection rate immediately after Durga Puja.
Doctors in Kolkata also found other states would also get affected because many people will come to their home state on the occasion of the festival and return back as asymptomatic patients.
"Durga Puja followed by Kali Puja and Diwali is going to act as an amplifier. We are heading towards a tsunami of Covid-19 infection in our state. The rate of the daily positive case is between 8 and 9 per cent when our goal is to restrict it within 5 per cent. The swelling crowd during the festival days will definitely increase the daily positive cases. If the average growth of regular positive cases increases, patients with severe symptoms will have no option left other than dying at homes," said Mukherjee.
Kolkata has more than 2,400 Durga Puja pandals whereas the number in the rest of the state is around 34,000.
Crowds are already spilling over the streets in Kolkata’s business pockets for puja shopping and many of them are not wearing masks and practicing physical distancing.
Citing the Covid-19 pandemic scenario in Kerala, a state with the highest literacy rate in the country, Mukherjee said, "The state had garnered appreciation from all over the world after commendable prevention and control of the situation. But the situation got worse thereafter the Onam festival. Bengal population density is higher than Kerala's and it can be easily guessed what we are going to face after the festive season."
The GAB member also pointed out the manpower crisis issue during the festive season.
"Doctors and healthcare workers go on vacation every year during the festival period. If another set of workers replace them, we don’t know whether they are trained enough to deal with the situation," he added.
The GAB already briefed the chief minister about its fear and requested her to ensure safety measures during the festival period. Different doctors’ bodies, too, wrote to the CM requesting her to take strong precautionary measures during the festivals to prevent the spread of Covid-19.
Bengal is recording daily positive cases around 3,700 and 60 deaths for last one week.