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KOLKATA: Bengal had 24,287 fresh Covid cases on Sunday, breaking the all-time single-day spike record, and Kolkata, with 8,712 cases, broke its previous high of six days ago, as the Omicron-driven third wave of the pandemic showed a. steady, steep surge and no signs of slowing down. The biggest daily surge in cases in Bengal, until Sunday, was on May 14, 2021, with 20,846 cases.
Experts warned that the crest of the third wave was yet to come, during which the daily case-load could easily double and increase hospitalisations. The reassuring factor was that the rates of hospitalization and mortality were still low, especially when compared with the devastating second wave’s. But calculated projections of the near future show that absolute numbers would only rise for a while now.


Putting things in perspective, on May 14 last year, the positivity rate was 29%, with 70,051 samples tested. Sunday’s positivity rate was 33.8%, with 71,664 tests carried out. But there were 144 deaths on May 14, (0.7% of the total number of cases), compared with 18 (0.07%) reported on Sunday.
“The infection is spreading like wildfire,” said a Swasthya Bhawan official, adding, “Let us not be surprised if we reach double the number of what we are seeing at present in the next two weeks. The hospitalization and mortality rates, too, will start rising gradually. But we intend to hike up testing to detect as much as possible. ”
Senior healthcare officials in December had already alerted all healthcare stakeholders of the possibility of fresh daily cases rising to 30,000 in two to three weeks.
On Sunday, the city, too, recorded an all-time high Covid count, with 8,712 cases emerging in the past 24 hours, surpassing the 4,759 cases recorded on December 4. Even during the second wave, the city’s highest daily count had remained below 4,000 (the highest was 3,990 on May 3). Sources at the health department said the positivity rate in Kolkata was as high as 50%, with several labs recording even 70%.
“We are likely to continue to break more records if we continue to increase testing and use proper testing kits,” he said Sumon Poddar, associate professor and unit in-charge of the microbiology laboratory at Institute of Child Health.
Fresh cases in neighboring North 24 Parganas have crossed the 5,000 mark. South 24 Parganas, Howrah, Hooghly and West Burdwan are the other districts reporting cases in four digits.
“The cases are rising exponentially due to the predominance of the Omicron variant. The daily case-load will reach 35,000 per day very soon. We need covid-appropriate behavior, mask-wearing and controls on public gatherings, ”said a public health specialist Anirban Dalui, who is attached to Swasthya Bhawan.


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