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Health Ministry Asks West Bengal to Step up Covid-19 Testing, Work to Keep Fatality Rate Below 1%

Commuters wearing face masks wait for a bus in Kolkata. (AP)

Commuters wearing face masks wait for a bus in Kolkata. (AP)

The ministry said that Bengal is reporting almost 1,600 cases daily and 93% of the total active cases were reported in last four days.

Expressing concern over the increasing number of COVID-19 cases in West Bengal, the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare has written to the state’s health secretary suggesting a renewed effort is needed to suppress the transmission as well as to keep case fatality rate below 1%.

“To keep the mortality less than 1%, weekly case fatality needs to be monitored and below action points need to be taken,” Lav Agarwal, Joint Secretary in the ministry, wrote to Bengal Health Secretary NS Nigam.

The ministry said that Bengal is reporting almost 1,600 cases daily and 93% of the total active cases were reported in last four days. It also said that Kolkata, Howrah, North 24-Parganas, South 24-Parganas as well as emerging hotspots in Jhargram, Purulia, Nadia, East Midnapore, Hooghly and Nadia need immediate attention.

“Owing to increasing number of cases observed in Kolkata, there is a need to develop a robust strategy to contain the spread of infection. The overall testing remains very low as compare to the national average. An increasing trend in case positivity rate in the last three weeks is also a cause of concern,” Agarwal said.

To suppress the transmission, the ministry has suggested that the state utilise the lockdown to focus on containment, surveillance and testing in the containment and buffer zones as the key strategy for early detection of cases and fatality management.

“The containment zone and buffer zone should be suitably delineated based on the mapping of cases and contacts,” it said.

Agarwal also requested the state government to ensure that at least 80% of the new cases have their close contacts traced and quarantined within 72 hours of confirmation.

“In terms of testing, the state should aim to achieve a minimum of 14 tests per lakh per day, while ensuring a positivity rate of less than 10%. Necessarily test of all asymptomatic high-risk contacts and mild symptomatic as per ICMR protocol,” he said.

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