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COVID Community Spread In West Bengal Started Early April, Biweekly Lockdown Of No Help: Virologist

Dr Amitabha Nandy, a virologist and former consultant at the World Health Organisation (WHO) alleged that the entire approach towards the control of COVID-19 spread in West Bengal has been “hijacked” from the scientific community, eventually leading to the “current disastrous situation”

COVID Community Spread In West Bengal Started Early April, Biweekly Lockdown Of No Help: Virologist
Highlights
  • Disease control programme in WB lacks scientific justification: Dr Nandy
  • Lockdown seems to be a mere eyewash: Dr Nandy
  • Biweekly lockdown not be beneficial to West Bengal: Dr Nandy

Kolkata: The Bengal government has largely failed to address the COVID-19 crisis, and its recent decision to impose complete lockdown twice a week till August will be of no help in stemming the community spread in the state, noted virologist Dr Amitabha Nandy said on Tuesday (July 28). His assertions, however, were rebuffed by senior TMC leader and Rajya Sabha MP Santanu Sen, who claimed that the “unplanned approach” of the Centre towards the pandemic was to blame for the spike in coronavirus cases across the nation.

According to Dr Nandy, community transmission of COVID-19 had started in Bengal way back in early-April and matters have only gotten worse primarily due to the “bizarre attitude” of the implementing agencies and the citizens. The virologist, a former consultant at the World Health Organisation (WHO), also alleged that the entire approach towards the control of COVID-19 spread in the state has been “hijacked” from the scientific community, eventually leading to the “current disastrous situation”.

Also Read: Hit By A Pandemic And A Super Cyclone, Here’s How West Bengal Is Tackling The Twin Challenge Of COVID-19 And Amphan

The attitude of the administration as well as the people of the state is quite bizarre. It has been observed time and again that the health infrastructure, (including that of private hospitals and private practitioners’ chambers) has severely suffered qualitatively and quantitatively. Here, the entire approach towards COVID control has been hijacked from the scientific community. As a result of which, we have landed in this disastrous situation, Dr Nandy told PTI on Tuesday.

Several auxiliary factors such as inadequate diagnostic facilities, improper hospitalisation criteria and senior doctors withholding themselves from health services have added to the problems of patients, he stated. Citing two examples from early April, where a fast-food seller in the city apparently died of COVID-19, and another ambulance owner reportedly contracted the virus during the course of his duty, Dr Nandy said, “There are numerous examples that COVID-19 community transmission in Kolkata started way back in April. I do not think the current administration understands what an epidemic is.”

These two people had not ventured out of the city for more than 10 years, and none in their family travelled to other states or abroad recently. In all probability, both might have contracted the infection from people who had been moving around as healthy individuals, the former adviser at Indian Council of Medical Research said.

The disease control programme in Bengal lacks scientific justification, he asserted.

The decision to impose lockdown two days a week may not be beneficial to us, going by the past record. It seems to be a mere eyewash, he said.

Also Read: IIT Kharagpur Researchers Develop Novel Technology For COVID-19 Rapid Test

Asked what should be the state government’s approach towards addressing the issue, Dr Nandy said,

We could have developed a scientifically valid epidemic control strategy based on a parallel and ongoing research in the field of epidemiology, disease control, case detection and management of COVID-19. The ideal mechanism of controlling this disease could have been through formulation of strategies based on the result of ongoing research with provision of mid-course flexibilities (changes), depending on the results of such studies, Dr Nandy elaborated.

He also raised questions on the COVID-19 recovery figures in West Bengal. “A sizable proportion of the professionals involved in the healthcare sector seems to have inappropriate knowledge about the definition of cure and biological/genetic interpretation of the results of RTPCR. A mere positive result in RTPCR does not indicate the infectivity of the genome vis-a-vis patient,” he said. Recovery in any infectious disease can be categorised into — clinical cure and microbiological cure. In the present scenario, its virological, Dr Nandy said.

Even the RT-PCR is not 100 per cent sensitive to declare an individual free of the virus in a negative result. There has been ample evidence of a negative RTPCR turning positive within a few days, which might also indicate a growing viral load during this period. Therefore, considering the epidemiological significance of such subjects, community safety and transmission potential of every discharged patient remains questionable till we have an appropriate technology which can demonstrate a state of complete viral clearance, he explained.

Also Read: West Bengal Sets Up ‘COVID Warrior Club’ To Help Contain Pandemic

The virologist was also critical about the rush to come out with a vaccine to combat Covid-19, and stressed on the need to invent a drug to control the menace. Even if a vaccine is discovered, “it would be difficult to demonstrate its protective efficacy” until and unless transmission ceases.

Right now emphasis needs to be given on developing an anti-viral drug to save millions who are in critical stages, while simultaneously keeping the ongoing vaccine research intact. We should also give importance to more and more personal protective measures and effective community education and practice, he added.

Dismissing the charges levelled against the state, Mr Sen, who is also the former president of the Indian Medical Association, said Dr Nandy should ask the Centre to acknowledge COVID-19 community spread in the country.

With due regards to Dr Nandy, I have to say that such remarks from a person of his stature is shocking. Before blaming the Bengal government, he should have spoken to the Centre, who, according to me, is solely responsible for the current state of affairs. Had Prime Minister Narendra Modi banned flights at the right time and held discussions with chief ministers before imposing the lockdown, the situation would have been much better, he said.

“I would request Dr Nandy to ask the Centre to ensure that ICMR functions impartially and declare that community transmission is happening in India,” Mr Sen said.

Echoing him, Atin Ghosh, who is in-charge of the Kolkata Municipal Corporation health wing, said the state had been following the guidelines set by the ICMR.

Our recover rate has surpassed 65 per cent. The discharge protocol has been set by the ICMR and not the state government. I think instead of being critical, Dr Nandy should come up with better suggestions, he added.

Also Read: In COVID-19 Times, This West Bengal NGO Provides Relief To Those Battling The Challenges Of The Pandemic

NDTV – Dettol Banega Swasth India campaign is an extension of the five-year-old Banega Swachh India initiative helmed by Campaign Ambassador Amitabh Bachchan. It aims to spread awareness about critical health issues facing the country. In wake of the current COVID-19 pandemic, the need for WASH (WaterSanitation and Hygiene) is reaffirmed as handwashing is one of the ways to prevent Coronavirus infection and other diseases. The campaign highlights the importance of nutrition and healthcare for women and children to prevent maternal and child mortality, fight malnutrition, stunting, wasting, anaemia and disease prevention through vaccines. Importance of programmes like Public Distribution System (PDS), Mid-day Meal Scheme, POSHAN Abhiyan and the role of Aganwadis and ASHA workers are also covered. Only a Swachh or clean India where toilets are used and open defecation free (ODF) status achieved as part of the Swachh Bharat Abhiyan launched by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in 2014, can eradicate diseases like diahorrea and become a Swasth or healthy India. The campaign will continue to cover issues like air pollutionwaste managementplastic banmanual scavenging and sanitation workers and menstrual hygiene

World

24,24,98,327Cases
20,40,54,102Active
3,35,14,449Recovered
49,29,776Deaths
Coronavirus has spread to 195 countries. The total confirmed cases worldwide are 24,24,98,327 and 49,29,776 have died; 20,40,54,102 are active cases and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 5:24 am.

India

3,41,43,236 15,786Cases
1,75,7453,086Active
3,35,14,449 18,641Recovered
4,53,042 231Deaths
In India, there are 3,41,43,236 confirmed cases including 4,53,042 deaths. The number of active cases is 1,75,745 and 3,35,14,449 have recovered as on October 22, 2021 at 2:30 am.

State Details

State Cases Active Recovered Deaths
Maharashtra

65,98,218 1,573

27,899 1,434

64,30,394 2,968

1,39,925 39

Kerala

48,88,523 8,733

82,093 1,240

47,79,228 9,855

27,202 118

Karnataka

29,84,849 365

9,017 86

29,37,848 443

37,984 8

Tamil Nadu

26,91,797 1,164

13,790 268

26,42,039 1,412

35,968 20

Andhra Pradesh

20,62,303 493

5,500 66

20,42,476 552

14,327 7

Uttar Pradesh

17,10,068 10

107 5

16,87,062 14

22,899 1

West Bengal

15,83,646 833

7,535 44

15,57,090 775

19,021 14

Delhi

14,39,488 22

311 1

14,14,087 21

25,090

Odisha

10,37,056 524

4,336 51

10,24,422 573

8,298 2

Chhattisgarh

10,05,773 38

206 21

9,91,995 16

13,572 1

Rajasthan

9,54,395 2

36 2

9,45,405 4

8,954

Gujarat

8,26,353 13

156 20

8,16,110 33

10,087

Madhya Pradesh

7,92,721 12

88 6

7,82,110 6

10,523

Haryana

7,71,125 9

131 2

7,60,945 11

10,049

Bihar

7,26,042 6

30 0

7,16,351 6

9,661

Telangana

6,69,739 183

3,967 1

6,61,829 183

3,943 1

Assam

6,07,811 384

3,762 152

5,98,087 228

5,962 4

Punjab

6,02,135 22

226 6

5,85,358 27

16,551 1

Jharkhand

3,48,526 40

166 24

3,43,225 16

5,135

Uttarakhand

3,43,787 14

176 0

3,36,213 14

7,398

Jammu And Kashmir

3,31,386 87

814 14

3,26,143 73

4,429

Himachal Pradesh

2,22,138 202

1,452 58

2,16,955 140

3,731 4

Goa

1,77,765 59

618 21

1,73,790 35

3,357 3

Puducherry

1,27,564 43

454 7

1,25,258 50

1,852

Manipur

1,23,051 81

1,346 14

1,19,800 94

1,905 1

Mizoram

1,15,944 737

10,034 229

1,05,510 962

400 4

Tripura

84,369 18

105 10

83,448 8

816

Meghalaya

83,210 52

735 26

81,034 76

1,441 2

Chandigarh

65,315 3

26 2

64,469 1

820

Arunachal Pradesh

55,065 22

140 2

54,645 20

280

Sikkim

31,819 19

185 10

31,241 9

393

Nagaland

31,670 11

250 5

30,743 15

677 1

Ladakh

20,896 10

43 9

20,645 1

208

Dadra And Nagar Haveli

10,678 2

4 2

10,670

4

Lakshadweep

10,365

0 0

10,314

51

Andaman And Nicobar Islands

7,646

7 0

7,510

129

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