Bengal elections 2021: Rallies lead to sharp rise in COVID-19 cases

Express News Service
KOLKATA: West Bengal is witnessing a steep rise in COVID-19 cases and fatalities, and many health experts held month-long political extravaganzas responsible for the spread of the coronavirus in urban as well as rural regions of the state.

The state registered its highest single-day spike of 17,411 COVID-19 cases and 96 deaths on. A week ago, 12,876 new coronavirus cases and 59 deaths were reported. Though the Centre announced a vaccination drive for all those 18 and above, the implementation on the ground in the state seems to be a task next to impossible.

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The chief minister announced the start of vaccinations for people in the age bracket from May 5, but an order issued by the state health department asks hospitals to give priority to those who are above 45 years old.

The state government asked the Centre to provide 2 crore vaccine doses immediately but there was no response from the central government by Saturday evening.

“Many people turned up at the state-run hospitals for vaccination but they had to return because of the shortage of vaccines. We have decided to allow the people with above 45 years on priority basis and secure the second dose of vaccine for these set of recipients,” said an official of the state government.

The private hospitals are also running short of doses and they have stopped giving the first dose, focusing on giving second doses.Health experts found that no one other than political heavyweights are responsible for the steep spike in rural West Bengal. 

“The first election day was March 27 and the state registered a single-day spike of only 812 cases and death of two persons. Now you see the figure has gone up to where,” said an official of the state’s health department.

Districts in the state are registering five to eight times fresh COVID-19 cases per day comparing to the figure in October 2020 when the infection rate was at its peak.

In the first wave of COVID-19, we managed to save rural regions of the state but this time the situation is alarming. This is simply because of rallies, roadshows and other political events,” said an official of the state’s health department.