KOLKATA: Eastern Railway on Tuesday said it has so far cancelled 56 local trains in the Sealdah section after around 90 drivers and guards tested positive for COVID- 19.
No decision has been taken on cancellation of trains in the Howrah section, an official said.
"The situation is pretty grim. Some 90 drivers and guards are unable to report for duty due to Covid.
We have cancelled 56 local trains to ensure mail and express train services are not impacted," Eastern Railway spokesperson Eklabya Chakraborty told PTI.
"As far as possible, the non-peak hour trains are cancelled to minimise the impact for commuters," he added.
Suburban train services resumed in West Bengal on November 11 last year after more than seven months.
In the wake of soaring COVID-19 cases, the Indian Railways had recently announced that commuters will be fined up to Rs 500 for not wearing masks at rail premises and in trains.
The state reported the highest single-day spike of 8,426 new COVID-19 cases on Monday, while 38 people died of the infection in the state, as per the Health Department.
The fresh cases took the tally to over 6.68 lakh, it said.
So far, 10,606 people have died of the disease in the state, it added.
Twelve of the latest deaths happened in Kolkata, which reported record 2,211 new cases.
In the last 24 hours, 4,608 recoveries were registered across the state.
The recovery rate further slipped to 90.42 per cent as the number of active cases breached the 50,000-mark.
At present West Bengal has 53,418 active cases, which is also a grim record, as per the Health Department.
The state tested 42,118 samples for COVID-19 in the last 24 hours, which is lesser than 46,074 samples tested on the previous day.
North 24 Parganas is the worst-affected district after Kolkata as it reported 1,801 new cases and nine deaths.
Howrah reported 527 cases and four deaths, while South 24 Parganas recorded 522 new cases and two deaths, it added.
So far, 6.04 lakh patients have recovered from the disease in state.
The state government has decided to start a few safe homes and quarantine centres in different corners of Kolkata to deal with the surge in the COVID-19 cases, Urban Development Minister Firhad Hakim said.
While a 400-bed safe home will come up at 'Uttirno', the multi-facility cultural complex in Alipore, there will be a 700-bed safe home in Anandapur, and one in the Gitanjali Stadium in Kasba.
Hakim said that patients will be first taken to safe homes and then they will be hospitalised, if their condition deteriorates.
At a meeting between private hospitals and the West Bengal Clinical Establishment Regulatory Commission (WBCREC), it was decided that the medical establishments will be increasing their bed capacity by another 30 per cent, officials said.
For this purpose, the private hospitals would shift their Out Patient Department (OPD) to outside their premises and community halls can be used for the purpose, they said.
"The OPDs should be converted into wards in order to increase the beds. We have also decided to postpone any planned surgery for the next 15 days, starting April 21," said WBCREC chairman Justice Ashim Kumar Banerjee.
"We have also told hospitals that for the time being, we do not want any grievance regarding billings. Any such complaints should be addressed at the hospital," he said.
The focus will be on providing healthcare to every patient, even if that is via telemedicine, he added.
Satellite centres in different hotels or small nursing homes are being planned to accommodate non-COVID patients, he said.
The hospitals and hotels will be meeting on Tuesday on the issue.