A joint platform of doctors in West Bengal on Friday wrote to the Election Commission, sounding alarm over rising COVID-19 cases and “complete disappearance” of safety protocols at political rallies in the poll-bound state. The doctors have also flagged non-availability of beds in COVID-19 hospitals as well as free ventilators in the state.
“The number of Covid victims in West Bengal has been increasing significantly over the last seven days. Mutant strains have been found in the bodies of several patients, too. “It is also to be noted that the number of tests being regularly conducted is much less than before,” Dr Hiralal Konar and Dr Punyabrata Gun, representing the Joint Platform of Doctors, said in a letter to the chief election commissioner.
The forum has over 30,000 doctors under its fold. India saw 39,726new coronavirus infections in a day, the highest single day rise recorded so far this year, taking the nationwide COVID-19tally of cases to1,15,14,331, the Union Health Ministry said on Friday. “Several patients are being admitted in Covid ICUs once again, and there is a shortage of beds as well as free ventilators… While it is not possible to conclude with certainty about the initiation of the second wave, this trend is quite alarming,” the doctors said.
“Safety protocols have completely disappeared in the process of holding rallies and meetings of all political parties on the occasion of the upcoming elections in the state,” they added. Ordinary people, political leaders and even some security personnel are either seen without face masks or place those below the chin, exposing the nose and the mouth, the letter said.
“In other words, every act of spreading the contagion is being observed and all the political parties… agree to remain silent on this crucial issue of public health,” it said. The doctors also cited a study that states that only one-fourth to one-third of the population has detectable antibodies against coronavirus.
“Out of 100 million people in the state, only 20.3 lakh people have been vaccinated till date,” the doctors said in the letter. “Processions should be long enough so that the participants are at least three feet apart. If a big field is not available, the meeting should be in the open.
“Make masks compulsory at election rallies and polling booths. Wear two masks instead of one, with the nose, mouth and chin covered,” it said, urging the election commission to ensure such safety measures. The doctors said West Bengal should daily test at least 30,000 samples for COVID-19.
In the past three days, about 17,000-20,000 tests were conducted in the state.