Darjeeling logs maximum Covid-19 cases, deaths in north Bengal; experts blame trading hub Siliguri
Till August 31, the district had recorded 5,056 cases and 75 deaths, which is much higher than what Malda - the most populous district of north Bengal – has recorded. Malda has registered 4,978 cases with only 39 deaths.Updated: Sep 02, 2020, 01:02 IST
Strange though it may sound, but Darjeeling district in north Bengal, three-fourths of which comprises hills, forests and tea gardens, has recorded the highest number of Covid-19 cases and related deaths among eight districts in the northern half of the state.
Till August 31, the district had recorded 5,056 cases and 75 deaths, which is much higher than what Malda - the most populous district of north Bengal – has recorded. Malda has registered 4,978 cases with only 39 deaths. Darjeeling, which has the second lowest population in the state, still has the highest number of active cases among the eight districts - 736.
Experts have blamed it on Siliguri, the only subdivision in the district which comprises the plains. They said that the three hill subdivisions of the districts – Darjeeling, Kalimpong and Kurseong have recorded very few cases.
“Siliguri is a cosmopolitan city, the second largest business hub of the state and a gateway to the northeastern states of India. It is because of this that this sub-division has a large floating population and hence recorded the maximum Covid-19 cases in the entire district of Darjeeling,” said a top official of the district administration.
If one looks deeper within the subdivision it is ward number 46 of Siliguri, which has recorded the maximum cases. This area contains the fish markets and sabzi mandis of Siliguri. The hilly regions of the state and the tea garden areas have recorded very few cases compared to their urban counterparts.
“Almost 90 percent of the Covid-19 positive cases in Darjeeling have come up from the Siliguri subdivision. Out of 4,941 total positive cases reported from Darjeeling district till Sunday, the hill sub divisions administered by semi-autonomous Gorkhaland Territorial Administration (GTA) had only 478 cases. While the total number of deaths in the district was 75, it was only 12 from the hills sub-divisions of Darjeeling, Kurseong and Kalimpong,” said Samden Dukpa, executive director of GTA’s heath and family welfare department.
The villages located in the hills and tea gardens, on the contrary, have imposed strict restrictions on the residents and maintain social distancing which have helped to keep the Covid-19 numbers low in the hill areas.
“Most of the villages in the hills made it mandatory for those returning home to stay in 14-day-long home quarantine. Population in the hills is very low. Being closer to nature, the villagers have high immunity levels. Such factors have also helped to keep the numbers low,” said Dr Kalyan Khan, associate professor, pathology department, North Bengal Medical College and Hospital.
Kalimpong district in north Bengal which comprises of hills and forests have recorded only 470 cases till date and three deaths. This is the lowest Covid-19 cases among eight north Bengal districts.
Alipurduar district has the second lowest number of Covid-19 cases. Till August 31, the district recorded 2,057 cases with only 12 deaths.
“The district has large tea gardens and forest areas. Strict surveillance on migrant workers returning homes helped the district administration to restrict the number of positive cases,” said a senior government doctor of the district’s health department.
Malda on the other hand has the second highest Covid-19 cases. It has the maximum population among other districts in north Bengal. A chunk of the district’s population work as migrant labourers in other states. They had returned home in special trains during the pandemic spreading the disease to a considerable extent, officials said.