Highest single-day spike of 344 cases takes Bengal Covid-19 tally to 4,536
West Bengal on Thursday recorded its highest single-day spike in Covid-19 cases with 344 cases to take the state’s tally to 4,536, the health department said.
The previous highest was 208 cases reported on Sunday.
According to a senior official of the state health department, the majority of these cases are from rural areas in different districts where migrant workers recently returned from other states.
“More than 250 of these 344 new cases are migrant workers who recently returned from the states of Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Punjab, Gujarat, Delhi and Tamil Nadu,” said a health department official. “Over the past one week, the number of migrant workers testing positive for Covid-19 has crossed 600.”
The districts of Malda, Murshidabad, Birbhum, Hooghly, Howrah and Uttar Dinajpur have been the worst affected as most of the state’s migrant workers hail from these districts. Out of Bengal’s 23 districts, only two in north Bengal presently remain unaffected by Covid-19.
Malda, Uttar Dinajpur, Birbhum and Bankura had been among the districts unaffected by Covid-19 till two weeks ago. However, over the past one week, Malda has recorded 79 new cases, Uttar Dinajpur 77 new cases and Murshidabad 60 new cases, while Hooghly and Howrah have recorded 87 and 153 cases, respectively, from the rural areas of these districts.
While Bankura has recorded 19 cases, and Nadia 34 cases, East Burdwan has recorded 37 new cases.
“Most of those who tested positive for Covid-19 in the past week, except for those in Kolkata, were migrant workers. We anticipate the numbers to go up as more results are awaited,” said a senior state government official who did not want to be identified.
On Wednesday, chief minister Mamata Banerjee blamed the Centre for forcing the state to accept more migrant workers than its intake capacity, given the precautions needed to be maintained.
“Centre’s unplanned transport of migrant workers is turning rural Bengal red. It will also turn rural India red,” Banerjee said.
The state government has decided to requisition more schools to turn them into institutional quarantine centres for returning migrant workers. Those returning from Maharashtra, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Delhi will be sent to institutional quarantine centres, the administration has decided.
Banerjee’s statement, however, has created a political controversy. Congress’ Lok Sabha leader Adhir Ranjan Chowdhury said, “It is utterly insensitive for the chief minister to blame migrant workers for the spread of Covid-19. Migrant workers have been one of the biggest victims of this lockdown. We should sympathize with them and create proper infrastructure and management,” Chowdhury said.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) state unit president Dilip Ghosh also attacked Banerjee. “The CM is treating the migrant workers unfairly. It is because of the state’s inability to create jobs that they went to other states in search of jobs. It’s the state’s responsibility to look after their wellbeing,” said Ghosh.