NEWS
08/05/2020 10:47 AM IST | Updated 08/05/2020 10:49 AM IST

West Bengal Sees 92 New Covid-19 Cases, 7 Deaths; Test Kit By State Researchers Gets ICMR Nod

Meanwhile, some licensed liquor sellers downed shutters in protest after the West Bengal State Beverages Corporation launched a portal to buy alcohol online.

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A man buys alcohol from a shop in Kolkata during the Covid-19 lockdown on May 7, 2020. 

West Bengal saw a rapid increase in the number of Covid-19 cases on Thursday will 92 people testing positive for the new coronavirus, and seven people died. 

According to the state government numbers, which doesn’t include deaths of those who had co-morbidities, the death toll in the state was at 79. 

However, Union health ministry data showed the number of deaths in West Bengal at 151, counting the 72 deaths that the state government has categorised as “deaths from co-morbidities”. 

Increase in cases

The sharp increase of Covid-19 cases in the state took the number of active cases to 1,101.

The total number of cases reported in the state was 1,548. 

PTI quoted health department sources as saying that among the new cases were two pregnant women admitted to the KPC Medical College and Hospital in Kolkata. 

An officer at Jorasanko police station also tested positive for the virus and was shifted to a private hospital for treatment, the sources said.

Among those who died five were from Kolkata and two from the North 24 Parganas district.

Kolkata Mayor Firhad Hakim, describing the pattern of the spread of the disease said, “We have noticed that the disease is spreading in areas like Burrabazar, Jorashanko, Posta and Koley Market. Accordingly, we have taken a decision to control the movement of trucks in these areas. In Belgachia, we have seen the successful implementation of certain steps to contain the disease. We are looking into the option of implementing the same in other areas.” 

However, the state government claimed that West Bengal was doing better than many other states. 

Junior health minister Chandrima Bhattacharya was quoted by The Telegraph as saying, “Despite all the negative propaganda, aimed solely at maligning Bengal, there is little cause for worry from the Bengal numbers, especially when you compare with most of the other big states.”

Controversy over alcohol online 

The West Bengal State Beverages Corporation launched a portal for online purchase and home delivery of liquor in the state. But that did not go down well with licensed sellers as they shut shops protesting the move. 

They said it would not be possible for them carry out doorstep deliveries and shut shops in protest. 

Only 10% of the liquor shops of the state were open during the day in the designated green, orange and red zones, except in containment areas, West Bengal Foreign Liquor OFF, ON, CS Shops and Hotel Owners Association told PTI.

“Sales have plummeted drastically because of this. In the first three days, liquor worth Rs 130 crore were sold, while today it was negligible,” said Sushmita Mukherjee, the assistant secretary of the association.

Mukherjee said the licensees will continue to keep their shops closed till the government comes out with a clear picture as it is not possible for them to deliver liquor at home.

For ensuring social distancing and minimizing footfall at retail outlets, the West Bengal State Beverages Corporation on Wednesday launched eRetail for online booking and home delivery of liquor.

The Telegraph reported that the government had allowed vendors to charge 20-40% of the MRP of the alcohol being bough as fee for delivery. 

ICMR nod to Bengal test kits

The ICMR has given its approval to a Covid-19 testing kit by Bengal scientists after it reportedly showed 100% accuracy in detecting the virus. 

The kit named ‘DiAGSure nCOV-19 Detection Assay’ costs Rs 500, PTI quoted a state government statement as saying, and can detect the virus in 90 minutes. 

Developed indigenously, one kit can test up to 160 patients, the statement said.

The researchers, under the guidance of former CSIR scientist Samit Adhyay, put together the kit in  one-and-half months with logistic support from Koustubh Panda, the head of the biotechnology department, University of Calcutta, the statement said.

The equipment was then developed by GCC Biotech (India) Private Ltd, a company based in Bakrahat, South 24 Parganas, following rigorous clinical trials.