Kolkata: Women Indian Chamber of Commerce and Industry (WICCI) hosted the digital launch of healthcare council West Bengal through a virtual discussion on COVID-19 in India with Dr Kunal Sarkar, Senior Vice-Chairman, Director and Head of Cardiac Surgery, Medica Superspecialty Hospital. The session highlighted and deliberated about the various challenges, roadblocks that India had faced during the initial phase of COVID-19 pandemic and how the upcoming festival season in India is further helping the virus to ambush itself causing a northward trajectory of the COVID-19 spike. The session was moderated by Ms. Soma Chakraborty, President of WICCI Healthcare Council, West Bengal Chapter.
Dr Kunal Sarkar exemplified the rise of Corona Virus in different countries and how the festive season across the Country is again coercing the virus in spreading from one region to other. On this perspective, Dr Sarkar said, “The Chinese failed to stop COVID -19 virus from spreading while celebrating Chinese Lunar New Year in December 2019. Then the virus from Wuhan invaded Italy and other European countries followed by The USA and then it entered India. In mid-February 2020, Indian Government could have stopped International air travels, and could have also started more screening.” While discussing about the rise of cases in India, Dr Sarkar further stated, “The two worst weeks for India was between 1st September to 15th September where India’s daily spike reached highest in the world. It happened majorly because Maharashtra failed to reduce the COVID spike during Ganesh Puja and simultaneously Kerala failed during the Onam festival. West Bengal with a population of nearly 10 crores people and a high population density, should take lessons from others and should not follow the same trend while celebrating Durga Puja. People sensing a mild increase in temperature should not go out and be responsible in controlling the spread of this deadly virus. Old people having other symptoms of diabetes, asthma should stay at home. People should be clever and restrain themselves from spreading the virus.”
Both Dr Kunal Sarkar and Ms. Soma Chakraborty shared their insights on the spike that the world had witnessed during the last few months. In Europe, the first wave lasted for two months where in India it has lasted for more than five months. Fortunately, in the last few weeks India’s COVID spike has taken a downward slope and this is mainly because Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu have shown signs of cooling down. In West Bengal, the graph is slightly different from the rest of the country. In mid-October and the puja fervour just less than a week away, healthcare sector is witnessing a daily spike of over 100 new cases, as on 16th October 2020, the new positive patients stood at 3771. There are no vacant ICU beds in Government Hospitals. These hospitals have 75% general beds and 25% critical care beds. While in private hospitals there are 2700 beds allocated for COVID patients and there are no vacancies in any of these hospitals. In Kolkata about little less than 90% people with COVID symptoms are at home and people having minor symptoms are not going to Hospital rather preferring to stay at home. The COVID trajectory in West Bengal can be divided in Pre-September and Post-September. Cases are rising recently due to shopping and people not maintaining proper decorum. If the spike of daily new cases increases from 3700 to 15000 then situation will be out of control. There will be demand of beds, healthcare facilities and doctors. Already 20% of the doctors and healthcare staffs have fallen sick. There could be a situation that had happened in Italy in the past. Lack of beds, medication and proper healthcare infrastructure will upset the equilibrium.
Ms. Soma Chakraborty, President of WICCI stated, “We should be more sensible during the pujas so that we do not add one single number to the COVID spike. Everyone must enjoy pujas with their family members and close friends while staying indoors and we should act as responsible citizen during these trying times.”