Two residents of Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts who had tested positive for Covid- 19 have died in Siliguri. The 50-year-old person from Jaigaon in Alipurduar district died at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, while a 53-year-old from Cooch Behar died at Dr Chhang’s (Covid) Hospital at Matigara.

It is also learnt that a 60- year-old ex-army man of Bagdogra in the Siliguri Sub Division died after contracting Covid. However, the report could not be officially verified.

On the other hand, Darjeeling district witnessed a steady surge in Covid-19 cases with 145 today, while the Siliguri Municipal Corporation recorded 71 cases. Fifty-two of the cases were reported from the army, officials said.

Forty-four cases have been found in the SMC area that falls in Darjeeling district, while the other cases in the district are from Naxalbari (36 cases), 37 in Matigara, and two at Kharibari, and two in Phansidewa blocks. Five cases have also been found in Sukna, three in the Kurseong Municipality area, one in Takdah, seven in Sukhia Pokhari, two in Pulbazaar and three in Mirik, sources said.

SMC begins rapid antigen tests

The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) has started conducting rapid antigen tests among communities to diagnose cases of Covid-19.

The chairperson of the Board of Administrators of the SMC, Asok Bhattacharya, said vast sections of the population should be brought under the testing ambit to understand the magnitude of the virus spread and for early treatment of patients.

Sources at the SMC said the tests began at two urban primary health centres (UPHC) in Ward 4 and 44 yesterday.

“Training on collecting the nasopharyngeal samples has been given to health workers. Samples of 18 persons were collected for antigen tests and all tested negative. The swab collection will be done in more UPHCs at different locations soon,” sources at the civic body said. According to health department officials, such random tests are underway in nine blocks under Darjeeling district.

“If widespread tests can be carried out, it is expected that the number of positive cases will rise, because many people are still outside the ambit of tests,” said a health expert.

The antigen tests yield quick results, which can be obtained in 30-45 minutes, but the tests have shortcomings, while it may at times show false negative reports, experts have said. If a sample tests positive, it will be considered positive, but if any of those testing negative is symptomatic (mild or moderate), he or she will be subjected to confirmatory RTPCR tests.

Among the other blocks, it is learnt that more than 2000 people had undergone random antigen tests in the past nine days in the Matigara block.

“Under the random tests, any person can have him/her tested. On an average, nasopharyngeal samples of 200 people have been collected daily, and it also depends on the availability of the testing kits. The positivity rate is around two percent,” said a health department official. Meanwhile, Mr Bhattacharya said the civic body wanted to create awareness among the people to have them tested.

“We are planning to spread awareness through the ward committees that residents of all wards get themselves tested without fear, because early tests, early identification of cases, early treatment will help in patients getting cured,” he said.

57 fresh cases in Malda

In Malda, 57 fresh cases of Covid-19 have surfaced from among the 636 samples tested at the VRDL in the Malda Medical College and Hospital last night. The total number of affected persons in the district has now gone up to over 4100.