Testing Times amid Covid Burst in Kolkata with Sample Collectors Now Falling Prey to Virus

The pandemic has exploded once again in West Bengal with single-day Covid cases crossing 15,000. About 60,000 tests are being done daily. As cases soar, News18 found that testing has become a challenge in state capital Kolkata for people who have symptoms.

Ushashi Mukherjee from Park Circus said that her 70-year-old father has been ill for the past two days. Since he has the symptoms, she has been trying to book a slot for testing but without success. “I have tried all the big hospitals and diagnostic centres. They say there is a dearth of collectors. My father is old. How can we start the treatment if we are unable to do the test at the right time?” she said.

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Similar is the story of Sohini Routh from south Kolkata who has been trying to get her sister-in-law examined. She wants to do a second test so she can go back to London. “We are not getting any slots for the next 72 hours and my sister-in-law has to catch a flight,” she said.

Chief minister Mamata Banerjee on Thursday urged people to follow Covid protocol and restrictions imposed by the state government and warned that the administration may opt for stricter norms if the rise in the pandemic is not controlled.

Diagnostic centres and big hospitals in the city are working round the clock to collect samples. However, the problem is not inside the laboratory but outside, says Somnath Chatterjee, the director of Suraksha Diagnostics. “Huge amount of sample collection is the need of the hour. We are giving the results in time. But the problem is that now collectors are getting infected. This was not the situation during the second wave. As the collectors are down, there is a huge demand for sample collection that we are unable to meet.”

Yogesh Joshi, vice president of Medica hospital, concurred. “About 20 per cent of collectors are falling prey to Covid. Demand is very high and we are trying to manage it in every way.”

The peak is yet to come, say experts, but many maintain that the third wave of the pandemic has started in Bengal, and the challenges are going to mount in the coming days.

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