West Bengal: As Covid cases see uptick, doctors say ‘not unusual’

Amid a rise in the number of Covid-19 cases in Bengal over the past few days and concern about a possible fourth Covid wave hitting the country, doctors say that there is no reason to panic as a fourth wave was “expected” and cases going up is “not unusual.”

On Monday, the positivity rate rose to 4.19 per cent. West Bengal on Sunday recorded a positivity rate of 3.50 per cent and 362 new cases – 74 more than the previous day’s count of 288 new infections. Till date, 21,208 persons have succumbed to the virus in Bengal. In the past 24 hours, the state recorded 224 new Covid-19 cases, the state health department figures showed. With this, the state’s overall case count reached 20,22,141 till date. Data shows that 1,988 infected people are in home isolation in Bengal while 56 are in hospitals.

“Whether it is 400 or 4,000 [cases] is immaterial. The virus has always been there. It decided to change its nature four-five months ago. From being a severe assault on lungs, it has become barely a mild respiratory track infection. All in all, this wasn’t unexpected. If you see Indian dynamics, every six-seven months we see a surge. It is called the ‘tail’ of the pandemic. Two things are combined now: One, our overall detection level is better now and the virus has changed its nature. We must have confidence in the combination of vaccine and natural immunity. Instead of daily count, the number we should really be tracking is the number of hospitalisations — that would make the things more clear,” said senior cardiac surgeon Dr Kunal Sarkar. Sarkar has appealed to the government and public health authorities to give the public an idea of Covid related activities at hospitals.

Bengal’s Covid-19 tally is seeing a surge as the state is recording a jump of 70-100 cases in terms of daily count recently, according to the health department.

Around ten days ago, on June 9, the daily Covid case count was 95. On Friday, the state logged 295 new infections and on Sunday the daily count reached 362.

In the first week of April Bengal, reported 12 new  Covid-19 infections.

“In a span of three months, the daily count has jumped from 12 to 362 cases which seems alarming but there are no such movements at the hospital. If people have developed immunity and are fighting with the virus without a need of hospitalisation, I think we shouldn’t panic but remain alert,” said a senior doctor at a private hospital that has been handling Covid cases since the first wave.

The state had reported its lowest number of daily cases on April 5.

“It [another Covid wave] is quite expected. Pandemics usually have 5-6 waves. Now how devastating it will be depends on the mutation of the virus. Things are happening as per scientific law. What is important is to understand that a fourth wave is coming and we must treat the present scenario as its beginning. The figures are showing the indication that cases will go up further. What is important is we had preparations already which was not sufficient,” said Professor Manas Gumta, general secretary of the Association of Health Service Doctors (AHSD). While giving emphasis on revamping the infrastructures Gumta also appealed to people to maintain basic protocol such as wearing masks and using sanitisers.

“We have seen during second wave how people were suffering due to lack of beds, oxygen etc. We must be prepared for a fourth wave. It is key to revamp the infrastructure that was set up. People have also become a bit reluctant [to adhere to Covid protocol]. Many haven’t completed their vaccine dose too. The government should urge people to use face masks and maintain Covid protocol. If we have developed herd immunity, there may not be a large number of cases. This is the beginning of the fourth wave. Instead of waiting for it to reach its peak, we must follow Covid protocols. We should ramp up vaccination too,” added Gumta.

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