State tourism minister Gautam Deb today said that an action plan had been readied for strengthening surveillance network to monitor the spread of Covid-19. The plan will focus on slum areas and take steps where active cases are high, and also ensure proper sanitization.

The plan was prepared in a meeting chaired by Mr Deb and attended by officials of the Darjeeling district administration, representatives of the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC), Siliguri Metropolitan Police, Siliguri Jalpaiguri Development Authority and voluntary organizations here today.

The decision comes amid a spike in Covid-19 cases in the town.“We have prepared a three-month-long (July- September) action plan to deal with Covid-19. We will review the situation every month. The administration has already laid emphasis on the need for more effective containment and tracing efforts, and widening the scope of detecting infections.

The plan will focus on some major issues like containing the disease in slums, which are densely populated, and monitoring of active Covid-19 cases, while voluntary organisations will work in tandem with the administration to ensure that the guidelines are followed in markets and public places. The modalities will be prepared,” Mr Deb said.

“One case in the slums infects others. There may be lack of house-to-house drinking water connections and common toilets. We have asked the SMC to make drinking water arrangements. There are around 200 active Covid- 19 cases in Siliguri. The civic body will look into the active cases, especially on distribution of rations for people in containment zones. As an MLA of the Dabgram-Fulbari, I will look into the 14 added wards,” he added.

There are around 154 notified slums under the SMC and more than 20 non-notified slums. Mr Deb said special focus had been laid on Wards 18, 28, and 46, that has seen a jump in Covid cases. Wards 18 and 28 cover a significant portion of slum areas.

According to Mr Deb, the civic body and the health department will have close coordination with ward coordinators through a WhatasApp group to monitor the active cases ward-wise.

Nursing homes start treatment:

Mr Deb said around two private nursing homes in Siliguri have started treating Covid-19 patients. The minister said some nursing homes were upgrading their infrastructure. He said patients cannot be denied treatment by private health facilities.

Mr Deb said some complaints had been filed and the administration was looking into them. The Darjeeling district health department has asked prominent private nursing homes in Siliguri to reserve 10 percent of the existing beds to form a ‘Covid Ward.’

The chairman of the board of administrators of the SMC, Asok Bhattacharya, who has been tested Covid-19 positive, is undergoing treatment in a private health facility at Matigara. Meanwhile, Darjeeling district CPI-M secretary Jibesh Sarkar said the state government should look into whether those private nursing homes were well equipped in terms of infrastructure.