On Tuesday, Calcutta recorded 503 new cases, bringing the active case count to 4,930. The last time the number of people who tested positive for Covid and needed medical attention was less than 5,000 was on September 27, when there were 4,944 active cases. Across the state, active cases stood at 20,663 on Tuesday, the best figures since August 1, when there were 20,631 active cases.
On Tuesday, 2,289 new Covid cases were detected in Bengal, including 503 in Calcutta. The last date the state had only added around these many new cases was July 29, when 2,294 people tested positive. In Kolkata, 524 new cases were registered on July 14, after which the tally increased.
Although lower new cases were recorded on Monday due to the weekend drop in tests, doctors said it was still encouraging to see the numbers gradually decline.
The Covid data released by the state even illustrate the improvement this month too. The total number of positive Covid cases in the second week of December dropped to 17,855, compared to 21,570 recorded in the first week. The combined two-week count number of 39,425 is also lower than that of the first two weeks of November, October and September, when 54,834, 48,643 and 43,143 positive Covid cases were recorded respectively.
Health experts also see a slight drop in the infection rate. However, they remain wary of the state’s widespread use of rapid antigen testing and fear that mild positive cases may not be reflected in the Covid bulletin.
“Daily cases have decreased and the recovery rate has improved dramatically. But the infection rate is still high. Our goal is to bring the positivity rate below 5% and the mortality rate below 1%. For this, we need to further augment the tests by deploying more RT-PCR than antigen tests. Currently RT-PCR compared with antigen tests in our state is 55% and 45%. Antigen testing should be reduced to 25 percent, “said senior physician Sukumar Mukherjee, who is also on the state’s global advisory board on Covid-19.
Despite a gradual overall decline, the positivity rate is still slightly above 8%. In Calcutta, the number of positive cases in the first two weeks of December was 9,912 compared to 12,048 and 10,270 cases in November and October respectively.
“The positivity rate has definitely decreased as Covid beds are readily available in private hospitals. But the question remains: are there too many cases missing due to the widespread use of antigen tests, especially in the districts? We should also see that there is parity in testing, “said Debkishore Gupta of Ruby General Hospital, an infectious disease control specialist.