The Darjeeling district health department has said private nursing homes can conduct Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) for suspected Covid-19 patients only.  Earlier, an order issued by the department on 29 May, banning such private facilities from conducting the test, had kicked up a debate. The department had named 27 nursing homes, which it said could not carry out the RAT.

The order was signed by the ‘Dy Chief Medical Officer of Health-II, Darjeeling.’  “Nursing homes will conduct RAT for suspected Covid19 patients,” the district chief medical officer of health, Dr Pralay Acharya, said today. Health department officials said focus had been laid on private facilities maintaining the records of the tests and informing the department about them.

The state government has allowed RAT in private hospitals for early detection and treatment of patients who visit them with Covid-19 symptoms, as the RT-PCR report arrival takes a long time. RAT is not as reliable as the RT-PCR tests because such tests often tend to show ‘false negative’ reports, officials have said. There are allegations that some private facilities are flouting the government guidelines while conducting RAT.

“There are some anomalies like a section of facilities are not informing the department of the records of the number of persons tested positive in RAT,” said an official. BJP MLA from Siliguri Shankar Ghosh had raised questions on the ban on nursing homes from conducting the rapid tests.

“Many Covid patients are becoming critical because they have to wait for the RTPCR test results for days, and in this case RAT is the only option. But we are surprised to see how the district health department issued an order, ignoring the advisory of the state government and recommendations of the Indian Council of Medical Research,” Mr Ghosh had said.

Suspected mucormycosis patient fails to find hospital bed

Family members of a 48year-old person of Siliguri landed in trouble while arranging a bed for him with ventilator support at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) today. The man is suffering from suspected mucormycosis or black fungus, sources said.

His daughter said the patient was admitted in a private nursing home and that doctors there asked them to shift him to the NBMCH, the ‘regional hub’ for the management of recalcitrant mucormycosis cases. She said they failed to get a bed for him at the NBMCH. The person had recovered from Covid-19 recently, it is learnt.

378 new Covid cases in Darjeeling district

Darjeeling district recorded 378 new Covid-19 cases today, sources said. The Siliguri Municipal Corporation area, including those under Jalpaiguri district, counted 167 cases. In rural areas, Matigara block reported a surge with 104 cases, after showing a declining trend in the past two consecutive days. Thirty-three cases were found in Naxalbari, 31 in Phansidewa, 19 in Bijanbari, 18 in Kurseong Municipality, 12 each in Mirik and Sukhiapokhri, nine each in Darjeeling Municipality and Sukna, and one case each in Takdah and Kharibari, the sources added. Meanwhile, 339 Covid patients recovered in the last 24 hours, sources said.

Seven Covid patients die at NBMCH

Around seven persons who had tested positive for Covid19 died at the NBMCH in the past 24 hours, sources said.