Former Siliguri mayor and senior CPI-M leader Asok Bhattacharya has stressed on steps to combat the Covid-19 situation in the town. As the chairperson of the board of administrators at the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) earlier, Mr Bhattacharya had engaged himself in several activities on the ground during the cornavirus pandemic last year.
“It appears that the government is in tatters when it comes to dealing with the present Covid-19 situation. The situation is alarming and people are worried. People were infected during the first wave of the coronavirus, but they more or less received treatment. The civic body had engaged health workers and they used to enquire about the patients suffering from Covid-19. Teams of doctors would monitor the condition of the patients in home isolation. Ward committees and ward coordinators would deliver medicines and other commodities at patients’ doorsteps. We had arranged for special ambulances to ferry patients,” Mr Bhattacharya said today.
“Elections for many civic bodies, including the SMC, could not be held almost for over a year. We are demanding that like the last year private hospitals be requisitioned as there has been a massive spurt in Covid19 cases. The North Bengal Medical College and Hospital should be upgraded for the treatment of Covid-19. There should be no shortage of Covid19 vaccines, life-saving medicines and oxygen, while visit of health workers in people’s house must be ensured, and more beds should be arranged for in hospitals,” he added.
The principal secretary of the Gorkhaland Territorial Administration, Surendra Gupta is presently in charge of the civic body as an administrator. The Left Front has decided to activate its ward committees to provide food and medicines to the affected families if required.
“If the situation demands, members of the ward committees will deliver food and medicines like last year. We are ready to cooperate with the administration and the SMC and stand with the people, while it hardly matters which party will form the government in the state,” said Mr Bhattacharya, who is seeking re-election as an MLA from Siliguri.
The veteran Marxist leader alleged that some nursing homes in the town had been charging an “exorbitant amount” from Covid-19 patient parties during their admission.
Doctors, organisations demand more bed
Doctors and voluntary organisations under the banner of Covid Care Network and Siliguri Fights Corona, have demanded that the health department increase the number of beds for Covid-19 patients.
They have mentioned reports about ‘artificial scarcity’ of the pulse oximeter, medicines and oxygen, as they held a meeting with Darjeeling chief medical officer of health Dr Pralay Acharya today.
“We have also highlighted the enormous billing by some private nursing homes and the immediate need to control the same and also proper monitoring. We have also stressed on monitoring of private pathological laboratories, where RTPCR tests are conducted,” the coordinator of the network and dean of student affairs at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital, Dr Sandip Sengupta, said.
They demanded opening of more Covid-19 vaccine sites to meet the demand. The convener of Siliguri Fights Corona, Animesh Bose, said more kiosks should be opened for sample collection for tests.
They also met civic body officials. “Nodal officers for every borough need to be appointed to monitor the present situation. The ambulance service of the corporation should be started immediately. Houses/ apartments where positive patients are in isolation should be marked by putting up stickers or ribbons. We also demanded proper collection and disposal of Covid waste from home isolation patients,” Mr Bose said.
SMC strict on masks
The SMC has asked traders to ensure that people wear masks in markets in Siliguri.
The corporation held a meeting with traders’ bodies and market committees today. Corporation commissioner Sonam Wangdi Bhutia said 37 markets in Siliguri had been sanitized and more will be covered. He said a joint team will be constituted with the police to check whether Covid-19 protocols are being followed in the markets.
Record single-day spike in Darj district, SMC
Meanwhile, Darjeeling district and the SMC reported a record single day spike of Covid19 cases in the past 24 hours. The district recorded 343 cases, while the SMC area, including the Jalpaiguri district portion, registered 251 cases.
“This is the highest single day count of Covid-19 cases in the district as well as in the SMC area in the last one year. We should not be surprised if the single day figures go up further,” said a public health expert.
Fifty-eight cases were found in Matigara, 54 in Naxalbari, 16 in Sukna, 10 in Darjeeling Municipality, nine in Kharibari, six in Sukhia Pokhari, four in Phansidewa, three in Mirik, two in Kurseong Municipality, two in Bijanbari and one in Takdah, sources said. Meanwhile, three persons who had tested positive for Covid-19 died in Siliguri today