Eight die even as West Bengal govt works to ease curbs in red zones

By: Express News Service | Kolkata |

Updated: May 15, 2020 5:41:17 am

coronavirus, coronavirus in west bengal, covid 19 cases in west bengal, kolkata coronavirus, indian express During the day, a large number of private vehicles were seen on the road in the city’s non-containment zones.(Representational)

The state government on Thursday announced that the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) had claimed eight more lives, pushing up the toll to 143, even as it worked on relaxing restrictions to a degree in districts designated as red zones because of the high number of cases reported from there. If deaths due to comorbidities are taken into account, the count is 215.

Six of the eight patients who died are from Kolkata, while the other two are from Howrah. Both these districts, which are among the four red zones along with North 24 Parganas and Purba Medinipur, also accounted for over half of the 87 new positive cases detected in the 24 hours till Thursday 9 am — 31 in Kolkata, and 25 in Howrah — according to the health bulletin, taking the total number of cases to 2,377.

The other infections were reported from the districts of North 24 Parganas (16), South 24 Parganas (five), Paschim Bardhaman (three), Purba Medinipur (two), Nadia (two), Purba Bardhaman (one), Hooghly (one). One person from another state currently stranded in West Bengal also tested positive.

However, despite the rising number of infections in the red zones, the Mamata Banerjee government has decided to divide them into three categories, with curbs eased to varying degrees. Red Zone A will have no relaxations, Red Zone B will have some relaxations, and Red Zone C will have a few relaxations outside its containment zones.

There are more than 550 containment zones in these districts. Kolkata, which is the epicentre of the pandemic in the state, has 340 such areas.

A senior official of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation said the civic body might decide not to seal entire areas where infections get detected. The corporation is also drawing up plans to identify the containment zones.

“Till now when an infection is detected the entire house of the patient, the road in front of the house and adjoining areas were identified as red zones. This led to closure of a large number of roads. Now, discussions are being held to only identify the house of the Covid-19 patients and adjoining houses so that they can be identified as red zones. There will be surveillance on the road in front of that house. Soon, a survey will be conducted by health department officials and Kolkata

Police on this and a decision will be taken accordingly,” the official added.

During the day, a large number of private vehicles were seen on the road in the city’s non-containment zones. Government buses, which restarted services the day before, carried passengers as per the social-distancing norms. Small shops and standalone shops remained operational till the evening, but liquor shops in and around Kolkata remained mostly closed.

Some fall within containment zones, while others are running out of stock.  Several private offices in the city also functioned with 50 per cent workforce.

Meanwhile, 66 patients were discharged from hospitals in the last 24 hours, the government said, pushing up the discharge rate from 30.66 per cent to 32.31 per cent. Till now, 767 patients have recovered from the disease. Overall, the active case count rose from 1,381 to 1,394.

According to the health bulletin, 5,205 samples were tested in a day. With this, health officials have examined 62,837 specimens till date, with 3.78 per cent samples testing positive. The department said 8,980 people were in government quarantine, while 34,414 people were isolated at home.

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