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Team takes stock of ‘viral outbreak’

A member of the team and the deputy assistant director of health services (public health), Dr Pallav Bhattacharya, today said such respiratory infections occur during this season every year, and that it was nothing new. “No one should panic over the situation as such respiratory infections occur during this season,”

Sankha Ghosh | Siliguri |

Astate-level team of experts visited North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), the Siliguri District Hospital (SDH) and the Jalpaiguri District Hospital (JDH) to monitor the situation thrown up by children falling ill in large numbers with acute respiratory infection.

Doctors have attributed the illness to the respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) or other common viruses.As the team said that there was nothing to be alarmed about, around 100 beds have been augmented at the NBMCH and SDH to accommodate more children. The visit comes days after hundreds of children, mainly in some districts of north Bengal, have been hospitalised with symptoms of viral infection.

The sudden surge of cases of fever and respiratory distress among children has triggered a panic, though tests have revealed common viruses as the cause. RSV and influenza-B have been detected in some samples of children admitted with fever in the SDH and the JDH.

The samples were sent to the School of Tropical Medicine, Kolkata. Also, one sample was found positive for Covid-19 a few days ago, and some children were found to be suffering from dengue as tests for dengue, chikungunya, scrub typhus, Japanese encephalitis and Covid had been conducted. According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, RSV is a common respiratory virus that usually causes mild, cold-like symptoms.

A member of the team and the deputy assistant director of health services (public health), Dr Pallav Bhattacharya, today said such respiratory infections occur during this season every year, and that it was nothing new. “No one
should panic over the situation as such respiratory infections occur during this season,”

Dr Bhattacharya said in Siliguri. “We have reviewed the preparedness of the hospitals and visited paediatric wards. We discussed the coordinated approach for the treatment of children and also the arrangements and smooth management. We have looked into whether more integrated steps would be required. The preparedness is satisfactory,” he added.

The head of the department of microbiology, IPGME&RSSKM hospital, Dr Raja Roy, additional director of health services (EC, NC & ES) Dr Bikash Chandra Mondal, head of the department of community medicine, College of Medicine & Sagore Dutta Hospital Dr Dipta Kanti Mukhopadhyay and the associate professor of the department of paediatric medicine, Medical College, Kolkata, Dr Mihir Sarkar, were others members of the team.

According to the officer on special duty for public health in north Bengal, Dr Suasnta Kumar Roy, they had asked health facilities to arrange for isolated beds as the virus was contagious. The strength of the beds in the paediatric ward of the NBMCH is 120, while 50 beds will be added there. In the last 24 hours, three new children have been admitted there, while a total of 62 children are admitted, with nine fever cases.

Among the fever cases, one has been diagnosed as dengue and another Japanese Encephalitis. Beds have also been augmented at the SDH. Forty-seven more have been added to the existing 34 there. It may be mentioned here that mothers had been lying on the floor of the ward in the hospital due to a bed crunch as the number of patients was on the rise. In the last 24 hours, 13 children were admitted to the hospital, taking the number to 54.

There were four fever cases, sources said. Meanwhile, two babies who had been tested positive for RSV were also found to be positive for dengue at the hospital, it is learnt. “Health workers are visiting at least 50 houses around each house where such cases have been found. We are keeping close surveillance. We did not get anything alarming so far,” Dr Roy said.

The health department has sanctioned 435 new paediatric intensive care unit beds, in addition to the 244 beds across the state. Initially, 12 beds were sanctioned at the NBMCH, and 12 more were augmented, 12 beds were sanctioned in the Malda Medical College and Hospital earlier and an equal number has been added there, it is learnt.

In Cooch Behar district, a 24-bed facility is coming up in the MJN Medical College and Hospital, while in the Raiganj Government Medical College and Hospital, a 24-bed PICU will be developed and a 12-bed unit will be set up in the Jalpaiguri District Hospital.

An order issued by the health & family welfare department has asked the facilities to make the same functional soon so as to combat a probable surge in Covid-19 cases. Meanwhile, Dr Roy today expressed annoyance over non-completion of the work at the PICU at the NBMCH.

Expressing dissatisfaction over the tardy process of the work, Dr Roy said the PICU was supposed to be ready in July.