Ramp up testing and identify high infection clusters: Advisory body tells Bengal government
Bengal has witnessed a sharp spike with more than 22,000 Covid-19 cases and nearly 500 deaths being reported in the past one month alone. Till date, the state has recorded 34,427 Covid-19 cases and 1,000 deaths.Updated: Jul 16, 2020 16:59 IST
The Global Advisory Body, led by Nobel laureate Abhijit Vinayak Banerjee, has advised the Mamata Banerjee-administration in Bengal to ramp up testing and identify high infection clusters, which could be declared as local containment zones to check the spread of Covid-19.
Bengal has witnessed a sharp spike with more than 22,000 Covid-19 cases and nearly 500 deaths being reported in the past one month alone. Till date, the state has recorded 34,427 Covid-19 cases and 1,000 deaths.
“To control the spread of the disease, it is very important that the government identifies high-infection clusters and makes them local containment zones. For this to be possible, ramped up testing – using all available methods – is needed,” said the advisory.
While on one hand the state government has enforced rigorous lockdown in containment zones after increasing their ambits, testing has also been increased from less than 200 per day in the first week of April to more than 11,000 per day at present.
“We would be further increasing the number of tests. Lockdown have been imposed in five towns in north Bengal apart from more than containment areas,” said a senior official in the health department.
Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee had said on Wednesday that cases could spike further over the next two months as testing would be ramped. The positivity rate has also shot up over the past one month from 3.4% on June 17 to 5.3% on July 15.
“The youth, local clubs and the community needs to be involved to maintain quality in community health care centres such as the ‘safe homes’. Local youth, NGOs and networking groups comprising former Covid-19 patients need to step in prevent ostracism,” said one of the members of the body.
The government has set up around 106 safe houses with more than 6,000 beds where Covid-19 patients with mild symptoms, who do not have enough space in their own house, could be kept in quarantine without going to the hospitals.
The GAB was formed by the Mamata Banerjee to advise her government on how to fight the crisis triggered by the viral outbreak. Swarup Sarkar, former regional director of WHO (World Health Organisation); Tom Frieden, ex-CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the US); Jishnu Das, economist, World Bank; and JVR Prasad Rao, a former union health secretary, are among the other experts. Members have met at elast 13 times through video conferencing.
“The chief minister has already asked the local clubs to supervise that everybody wears masks, there is no gathering and no crowding in markets,” said a minister.
The advisory body has also asked the government to periodically augment its policies on Covid-19 based on evolving needs.