As Bengal is witnessing a huge surge in Covid-19 cases, the government has to contain the contagion and carry out timely inoculation lest it’s too late.
Kolkata: The political show in West Bengal ended with a ‘massive’ victory of Mamata Banerjee-led All India Trinamool Congress (TMC) and a ‘massive’ surge in COVID-19 cases. During the month-long campaign, the daily count of COVID-19 cases in the State shot up by more than 20 times. The surge in cases continues post-election as well. The surge in the Covid-19 is going to be one of the biggest post-poll challenges for Mamta-led government.
The election campaign witnessed several rallies, public meetings, and roadshows. While most states in the country were busy imposing lockdown to curb COVID-19 infection, people of West Bengal were in the streets cheering for their favourite politicians. After analysing the situation, the division bench of Calcutta High Court held the polling officials responsible for their negligence in ensuring the enactment of COVID- 19 guidelines during voting and campaigning by political parties.
The BJP and the TMC showed some sensibility at the end of the election campaign by restricting the number of people attending the rallies. While Narendra Modi held small public meetings, Ms. Banerjee did not campaign in Kolkata and reduced the rally timings to 30 minutes in other districts.
Now, post-election Ms. Banerjee has initiated her game plan to tackle the situation which is worsening with each coming day. After taking the oath as the Chief Minister of the state for the third time, she wrote a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi stressing on her demand for free vaccination for all. She has further requested the Prime Minister to permit the West Bengal government to procure vaccines.
Commenting on the inadequate supply of the COVID-19 vaccines to the state, termed the Union government’s plan to inoculate the eighteen-plus population unrealistic.
In another letter, Ms. Banerjee highlighted her demand for more medical oxygen. On the same day, the state witnessed the highest single-day spike of 19,216 cases. The number of deaths has crossed the 12000 mark.
The TMC government has knocked at the Supreme Court’s door seeking directions to cancel the phase-3 vaccine policy of the Union government, and it has also requested the apex court to standardise the pricing of the vaccine by fixing it as Rs 150 per dose irrespective of the manufacturer.
In the application, the State government has mentioned that the Centre has failed to fulfil its commitment of supplying four lakh doses of vaccine by May 5, 2020.
It further said that owing to the shortage of vaccines the phase-3 vaccination program is on a halt in the state. However, she said, the inoculation of people above 44 years is going on. The State government drew the court’s attention to the fact that the Centre must take immediate steps to procure vaccines and distribute them to the States without further delay.
The COVID-19 cases have been rapidly increasing in rural parts of Bengal. To control the spread of the virus, the government has planned to employ 2,75,000 quacks, who are unqualified rural healthcare workers consulted by villagers for minor treatments in absence of a doctor.
“Even when the State was witnessing the peak of the first wave in October 2020, the cases in Rural Bengal were under control. But now, cases have shot up almost five to eight times in the districts which have more than 50% rural population,” said a senior official of the State health department.
Ms. Banerjee has said that the quacks can be named ‘Swasthya Suraksha Bondhus’ and use this workforce to tackle the situation.
Currently, Bengal is going through a bad phase. The surging cases and vaccine shortage are the two main concerns for the State government.