Bengal stares at the prospect of a ‘Tsunami of Covid-19 infections’ after the Durga puja festival leading coronavirus- affected patients with moderate and severe symptoms to die at homes if proper precautionary measures are not taken immediately.

These fears were expressed by none other than Dr Sukumar Mukherjee, veteran general medicine expert and a prominent member of the Global Advisory Board (GAB) formed by Mamata Banerjee government, to guide the latter on how to fight the pandemic ravaging Bengal since the end of March.

There has been a regular surge in the number of Covid- 19 affected cases and deaths since last week raising eyebrows of the medical community and state administration led by the chief minister Miss Mamata Banerjee hardly two weeks ahead of Durga puja in the state. According to the daily bulletin released by the state health department on Thursday, Bengal has recorded the highest spike in the number of 3556 Covidaffected patients in a single day since the end of March.

While speaking to The Statesman Dr Mukherjee said today, “We are awaiting a ‘tsunami of Covid-19 infections in our state immediately after the Durga Puja and it will be very difficult to manage the situation. The situation may lead patients with moderate and severe symptoms to die at their homes if they don’t get hospital care.”

“Political rallies, pre-Puja shopping and irresponsible crowd without following any social distancing are aggravating the ‘tsunami of infections’ here in the state. All of us have seen what is happening in Kerala, a state with the highest literacy rate in the country. It had garnered worldwide appreciation after commendable prevention and control of the pandemic. But the pandemic is getting worse in Kerala after the Onam festival there,” the veteran general medicine specialist said.

“Serious Covid patients are waiting to get a berth in the critical care unit (CCU) in a private hospital for two to three days nowadays. Just try to understand the situation after the Puja when the situation will worsen. We on behalf of the GAB have briefed the chief minister everything urging her to arrange more ICU facilities. We need at least 2000 ICU beds against the existing 1200 only in both government and private healthcare facilities,” according to Dr Mukherjee.

“The pandemic is also ravaging other districts apart from Kolkata, Howrah, Hooghly, South and North 24 Parganas. Massive awareness campaign on using masks, hand sanitization and social distancing during and after the festivals should be launched to fight the disease,” he added.

Different doctors’ bodies like Association of Health Service Doctors (AHSD), West Bengal Doctors’ Forum etc have already requested the chief minister urging her to take strong precautionary measures during the festivals to prevent the spread of the killer viral disease otherwise the healthcare system will collapse in the state.

“The Covid situation in our state is very alarming. Doctors and other medical staff like us who are getting exposed to coronavirus patients since March are also feeling fatigued. I don’t know how long we will be able to attend patients,” said Dr Rahul Jain, a critical care expert, who attends to around 40 to 45 Covid patients daily at Belle Vue Clinic. Around 50 doctors have succumbed to Covid infections so far in the state.