South Dinajpur today witnessed its highest single-day spike of Covid-19 cases. A whopping 245 cases were detected, including 21 in the Balurghat Municipality area, and 26 BSF personnel.

The Business Association of the Balurghat market has, meanwhile, decided to appeal to the district administration to extend the timings of the lockdown in the town. Members of the association discussed the issue this evening, it is learnt. ”

The district Covid-19 taskforce had earlier decided to relax the timings for the markets to open and the partial lockdown earlier had helped contain the spread of the virus to some extent,” sources said.

According to health department sources, the fresh swabs that were tested were collected on August 15, 16 and 17 and sent to the VRDL in the Malda Medical College and Hospital. “A total of 215 positive reports came from the Malda lab last night, while the remaining 30 tested positive in rapid antigen and TrueNat tests in the Balurghat hospital,” the sources said.

Of the 215 cases, 21 are from Balurghat town, 25 in Balurghat’s rural fringes, 15 in Kushmandi block, 79 in Kumarganj block (including 26 BSF personnel), 10 in Hili block and 10 in the Banshihari block. Sources said 22 persons from Tapan block, one from Gangarampur town, five from Gangarampur block, six from Buniadpur town and 21 from Harirampur were also found carrying the virus.

The total number of Covid cases in the district has now climbed up to 2804. Meanwhile, 91 patients returned home after recovering today, it is learnt.

“A total of 1890 corona patients in the district have been discharged after treatment so far. In this situation,” said one senior official of the health department.

The president of the Balurghat Business Association, Hareram Saha, said, “We have discussed the issue with our members and decided to appeal to the district administration to extend the time. As evening is the ideal time for business in municipality areas, we will appeal to the officials to extend the lockdown time to at least up to 8 pm.”

37 fresh cases in Malda

In Malda, 37 fresh cases of Covid-19 were found in tests conducted at the VRDL last night. Among them, 17 cases are from Manikchak and 12 from Ratua-I block. The total cases in Malda now stand at over 4050, with 23 deaths. “There are presently around 900 active cases in the district,” sources said.

Top doctor visits Siliguri hospitals

In Siliguri, Dr Gopal Krishna Dhali, who is leading doctors in the state’s Covid-19 management, said more manpower will be engaged in the two dedicated hospitals for Covid-19 patients at Matigara and Kawakhali. Dr Dhali is on a tour of north Bengal to review the situation in government- run health facilities. He visited both the hospitals in the town to check the infrastructure today. He had visited the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) and held a meeting there yesterday.

“There is a need to strengthen the manpower in both the hospitals. It will be provided by the NBMCH,” he said.

Dr Dhali said for co-morbid patients, doctors of the two hospitals and the NBMCH can go for telemedicine consultations with expert doctors at the SSKM hospital.

“All the hospitals treating Covid-19 patients do not have the super specialty infrastructure. There are many patients who have kidney and lung diseases and those problems should also be addressed, along with the Covid treatment. In order to attend to those cases, we have a telemedicine centre run by specialist doctors at the SSKM hospital,” he added.

Meanwhile, the NBMCH may get 15-20 ventilators from among the 150 that arrived yesterday. The rest will be supplied to government hospitals across north Bengal like Darjeeling, Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar, Alipurduar, Malda, and North Dinajpur districts, health department sources said.

On the other hand, the Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) recorded 20 Covid-19 cases in the last 24 hours.

Darjeeling district recorded 88 cases, including 11 in the SMC, 37 in Naxalbari, 15 in Matigara, five in Sukna, one in Kurseong Municipality, three in Khaprail, 11 in Darjeeling Municipality, and four in Phansidewa, sources said.

Free cremation: Deb

Tourism Minister Gautam Deb today said Covid victims will be cremated free of cost. The decision was taken in a meeting he held with Darjeeling DM, S Ponnambalam. Mr Ponnambalam had to ask the agency operating the Sahudangi cremation centre to withdraw its decision to charge Rs 1150 for such cremations, following an uproar. “A decision was earlier taken to collect the cremation charges to manage funds for the six staff engaged at the centre. But the state government has now decided not to collect the cremation charges,” Mr Deb said.