COVID-19 in Bengal: mapping hotspots in Kolkata to prepare for more tests

Kolkata Municipal Corporation (KMC) is currently completing a survey in the city slums and other congested localities to prepare for more tests to detect Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This may even include rapid testing.

The survey was already on in order to pinpoint the most vulnerable zones, and later Kolkata was declared among four hotspots in West Bengal — the three other being Howrah, North 24 Parganas and East Midnapore.

Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) had already allowed rapid antibody testing for COVID-19 hotspots and clusters on April 4, and the state government is preparing to increase tests across the hotspots in the state. Rapid testing involves pricking one’s finger with needle and obtaining the results in 30 minutes. The ICMR had said that such testings are to be carried out for those showing flu-like symptoms in these zones.

With a population of around 40 lakh people spread over 3,092 slums, it is not possible to conduct tests on the entire area and thus it is being narrowed down to places where the situation is most vulnerable. For the remaining areas, municipality health workers and local volunteers will constantly monitor health condition of those with flu-like symptoms and either admit them to hospitals by consulting doctors or provide them medicines in their homes, as per instructions.

More tests will also be done in certain areas of Howrah after the government prepares a map of COVID-19 sensitive areas on priority basis just as is being done for Kolkata. There too, local volunteers and health workers will conduct door-to-door visits, especially in congested areas for health monitoring in a similar manner.

Mobile health screening camps have started working in Howrah for monitoring the health of people in areas which have more chances of contacting COVID-19.

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