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'Bengal Could See Mumbai-like Virus Spread Sans Field Intervention, Random Tests in Vulnerable Areas'

Image for representation. (Reuters)

Image for representation. (Reuters)

Stating that West Bengal is a populous state with the third-highest population density in the country, ICMR-NICED Director Dr Shanta Dutta said the number of tests being conducted in the state is not sufficient.

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Sujit Nath

Kolkata: With a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across the country, the director of Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR)-National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) stressed for field intervention wherein more people would undergo tests in vulnerable areas as demarcated by the government in West Bengal to come up with a clearer picture.

Stating that Bengal is a populous state with the third-highest population density in the country, ICMR-NICED Director Dr Shanta Dutta said the number of tests being conducted in the state is not sufficient.

Dr Dutta said last week, NICED received less samples for testing in West Bengal, but now more are coming. “The samples we received last week didn’t even cross the double-digit figure.

“Initially, tests were restricted to symptomatic patients. In the sixth version, it is very clearly mentioned that not only symptomatic patients, but also those who are suffering from even mild influenza should be tested for COVID-19.”

She said the health authorities need to do door-to door random tests in demarcated vulnerable areas in Bengal. “I want to clarify that testing only symptomatic persons who are visiting the hospitals will not do,” she said.

"As per the recommendation of ICMR - health experts/state health department officials can execute the ‘field intervention’ tasks in demarcated areas. This is not that I am saying it but it is the recommendation of the ICMR. There are guidelines, which says people should get items of daily needs at their door steps. They should not come out unless it is very urgent. This is the effective way to prevent the virus from spreading as per the recommendation,” Dr Dutta said.

She said if the authorities fail to adopt the new strategy of ‘field intervention’, the situation will go out of control in Bengal like it happened in Mumbai and Delhi.

When asked about concerns regarding shortage of testing kits in Bengal, Dr Dutta refused to comment on the matter.

“We have nearly 27,000 kits in stock. I have distributed 7,500 kits to other government medical colleges in Bengal and some more kits in Odisha and Andamans. We hope as and when required, we will get more supply from ICMR,” she said.


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