Covid-19 Positivity Rate in Bengal Remained 8.23% Even After Durga Puja, Says Mamata Banerjee

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West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday said that COVID-19 positivity rate in the state could be contained at 8.23 per cent during Durga Puja and has remained so even after the festival. Positivity rate is the percentage of people who are found to be infected by the virus from those who are being tested. This parameter indicates how widespread the disease is.

During an administrative review meeting held at the state secretariat, Banerjee said, "The positivity rate is 8.23 per cent even after Durga Puja. We will try to maintain it even after rail services are resumed. "Proper sanitisation must be maintained and the number of trains must be adequate enough so that there is no crowd," the chief minister said.

Cautioning people that gatherings will deteriorate the situation if restraint is not shown during Kali Puja and Chhat Puja, she said, railway authorities should run enough trains so that people do not have to cram into one compartment risking their health.

"The discharge rate in West Bengal is 88.88 per cent. Earlier, it was quite low and it has improved slowly. The death rate was also high earlier. Eighty-four per cent of the deaths were caused due to comorbidities. The death rate now is 1.8 per cent," the chief minister said. Thanking Durga Puja committees and the people for maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols which kept a check on the spread of the infection, the chief minister urged them to show the same restraint during Kali Puja and Chhat celebrations.

"There are upcoming festivals of Kali Puja, Chhat Puja and Jagadhatri Puja. We must maintain similar kind of restraint like we showed during Durga Puja. "The state will be issuing a guideline on firecrackers. We should also follow similar procedure during immersions of idols as we had done after Durga Puja. We must be responsible in our behaviour to keep a check on the spread of the disease," Banerjee said.

The state government had issued guidelines for maintaining COVID-19 safety protocols during the festival such as ensuring social distancing among devotees, wearing masks, and using hand sanitisers. Just before the Durga Puja festivities, the Calcutta High Court had directed that five metres in the case of small pandals and 10 metres for large pandals should be declared no-entry zones for visitors, to prevent the surge of COVID-19 cases in the state.

A maximum of 25 organisers of the puja could be allowed if the pandal was a big one and 10 persons if it was small, the court had said. Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan said in New Delhi on Tuesday that Kerala, Delhi, West Bengal and Manipur had shown an increase in the number of coronavirus infections between October 3 and November 3.