West Bengal sees the highest number of deaths and new cases in a single day

Published : July 04, 2020 12:30 IST

People going for a walk in a park at Rabindra Sarovar Lake after authorities eased lockdown restrictions, in Kolkata on July 1. Photo: DIBYANGSHU SARKAR/AFP

West Bengal recorded its highest death toll due to COVID-19 in a single day, with 18 people dying on July 3, and the highest spike in cases, with 669 testing positive. As of July 3, the total number of COVID cases in the State stood at 20,488, including 6,317 active cases. The number of deaths stood at 735.

A large number of cases in the last 24 hours have been from Kolkata (182), North 24 Paraganas (134), Howrah (102) and South 24 Paraganas and Hooghly with 62 cases each. From June 29 onwards, the number of new cases in the State in a day has been well over 600. Of the 18 deaths recorded on July 3, eight were from Kolkata, three each from Howrah and North 24 Paraganas, two from South 24 Paraganas and one each from Malda and Hooghly. According to State government figures, more than 77 per cent of the total COVID-related deaths in the State were because of co-morbidities in the patients. The discharge rate in the State (as of July 3) stood at 66.23 per cent, with 14,105 discharged from hospitals.

With COVID-19 cases rising at an alarming rate in the State and social life almost returning to normal following relaxations of the lockdown, the Trinamool Congress government has, for the first time, issued a formal order saying that failure to wear a mask is a punishable offence by law. The July 2 order issued by Alapan Bandopadhyay, Additional Chief Secretary, Home and Hill Affairs Department, states: “…violation in compliance of norms of physical distancing and wearing of masks shall attract penal action as per law…. Anybody found in public places or on road without wearing masks shall forthwith be asked to wear masks and in failure to do so should be sent back. However, necessary penal action should be taken for repeat offenders.”

With the reopening of offices, restaurants and shopping malls reopening, many people, particularly in Kolkata, could be seen flagrantly violating norms of social distancing and without masks. Even though the police were trying to enforce the norms in various parts of the city and hauling up those not wearing masks, rampant violations continued. The State government hopes that the formal order will help improve the situation. However, crowding in public transport continues largely unchecked as commuters, faced with limited options, are compelled to ignore social distancing norms while going about their daily work. This, according to doctors, may further increase the spread of COVID-19.