The numbers officially make it the worst phase of the pandemic in the state.
The number of patients needing hospital care, too, has gone up, with hospital occupancy growing nearly 10 times between March and April (from 3.5% to 32.9%). The number of new cases jumped from 241 on March 10 to 4,043 on Saturday.
Active cases grew by 2,763 in the last 24 hours in Bengal, in sharp contrast to the decline in January and February. On January 10, active cases had dropped by 153 in 24 hours; on February 10, cases dropped by 109 in a day. But March saw a reversal, with the active case count rising by 17 in 24 hours on the 10th. Since January 10, Bengal has seen nearly 50,000 new cases. However, hospital occupancy was never as high as in April. Even on January 10, the hospital occupancy was 8.5%. The rate gradually dipped to 6.7% in February and 3.5% in March. But it suddenly rose to 33%, sending hospitals into a tizzy.
“We are again increasing Covid beds in hospitals keeping in mind the fallout of large gatherings at election meetings. The occupancy rate spiked. All the safe homes will now be reopened,” said a health department official.
The state recorded 19 Covid deaths on January 10, which dropped to five on February 10 and to two on March 10. But on April 10, it rose to 12. “So, apart from increasing general Covid beds, we are ramping up the emergency facilities, like HDU and ICU, so that critically ill patients can get the maximum support. We are also requesting the private facilities to do the same,” said another senior official.
On January 10, the number of total cases in Kolkata grew by 231 on January 10. There were three deaths and active cases were down by six in 24 hours. On April 10, active cases grew by 615 and there were four deaths. “The higher infectibility of newer strains is certainly a cause for concern. This is why Covid protocols are so important,” said Debasish Basu, a preventive medicine expert.
Restaurants and hotels across the state are concerned that the recent spike in the number of cases will hit business hard. Restaurateurs and hotel owners fear there may be another lockdown after the elections as the second Covid wave rages through the country. They claimed they have already recorded a significant drop in sales due to the second wave and the polls.