Bengal in throes of COVID-19, adds 18,802 new cases; one out of every two in Kolkata test positive

Kolkata: With 18,802 fresh cases of COVID-19 reported in West Bengal on Saturday, the state sank deeper into a coronavirus crisis, as capital Kolkata clocked a cumulative weekly positivity rate of over 55 percent ending Friday, government officials said.

The overall tally, since the pandemic erupted, has gone up to 17,30,759.

The state’s positivity rate also rose from Friday’s 26.34 percent to 29.60 percent, portending a grim battle against the disease ahead, with the Gangasagar fair, a huge congregation of common people and seers having begun today.

The Calcutta High Court had on Friday given the go-ahead for the fair, an annual event, which is once in a lifetime pilgrimage for many Hindus, but ordered enforcement of strict guidelines to check the spread of the disease.

It ordered setting up a committee which may recommend to the state a ban on entry to Sagar Island if there is any violation of health safety norms. The court also directed the West Bengal government to take a decision to declare the Sagar Island, where the annual fair is held, a notified area, a move that will empower the state to take additional measures for safeguarding the health, safety and welfare of the pilgrims. The fair will conclude on 16 January.

The city on Saturday recorded 7,337 fresh cases of the infection while neighbouring North 24 Parganas reported 3,286 new cases. In Howrah, there were 1,483 new cases, while Paschim Bardhaman reported 1,006.

There were 19 COVID-19 deaths in Bengal, including seven in Kolkata, officials said.

Since Friday, 8,112 patients have recovered and gone home. So far, 16,48,821 people have recovered from the disease in West Bengal. However, the the number of active cases has gone up by 10,671 since Friday to 62,055.

Meanwhile, a study conducted by the National Institute of Biomedical Genomics has found that 71.2 percent of those afflicted with COVID-19 in West Bengal are infected with the Omicron variant.