Amid concerns about the high positivity rate of Covid-19 in Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts, the health department has stressed on more surveillance, and setting up of “checkpoints” to ensure that all safety protocols are being followed.
The officer on special duty for public health in north Bengal, Dr Susanta Kumar Roy, held a meeting with district magistrates, chief medical officers of health (CMOH) of both the districts, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital principal Prof Indrajit Saha and other officials today.
“The positivity rate of Covid-19 is quite high in both Darjeeling and Kalimpong districts. It is around three percent, when the rate in the state remains at 1.9 percent. It is important that the rate comes down. We have evaluated that positive cases are higher in Mirik, Sukhia Pokhari, Pedong, and Lolegaon. There will be more surveillance in those areas,” Dr Roy said.
The positivity rate is a measure of the number of samples that test positive out of all samples tested in a day. Dr Roy said they were in favour of tight vigilance, which had been in place during the first wave of Covid-19 last year.
According to the Darjeeling district chief medical officer of health, Dr Pralay Acharya, there are five such check points and more will be set up. Dr Roy said he had received complaints that people at the Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus had been flouting Covid protocols.
“I have requested administrative officers to take steps to ensure that Covid-appropriate behavour is followed in a proper way there. There should be checking of people at railway stations at least with thermal guns,” he said.
Health department officials have also asked the district magistrates, and the CMOH to increase surveillance as, according to them, some people in the Hills and in the rural areas of the Plains were trying to suppress the disease.
Dr Roy said “naka” checkpoints had been put in place on roads, especially at entry points, where people are examined by thermal guns “We are seeking negative RT-PCR reports, but we are not getting those always. We are now planning rapid antigen tests (RAT) too, but production of double dose Covid vaccination certificates would be safer,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dr Roy said they were not encouraging Covid patients to opt for home isolation. “We have elaborate arrangements for the treatment of people suffering from Covid19. There are safe homes and hospitals. The bed occupancy rate is below 10 percent. Patients under home isolation are brought to hospitals at the terminal stages,” he said.