The spurt in number of cases in Kolkata comes in the wake of cyclone Amphan, which ravaged the city two weeks ago. And now, Kolkata is entering the most critical phase and flouting social distancing norms could make thousands vulnerable to Covid-19 transmission, experts said. For Bengal, the worst may have just begun with migrant workers returning to the state and train services resuming, they said.
The spurt in cases in Cooch Behar was proof enough that the virus was now being carried into the state.
“With travel restrictions lifted and streams of people arriving, we are on the verge of a second wave of transmission. It will be difficult to stick to safety norms now and things could gradually slip out of control. Transmission can be restricted, though, by enforcing social distancing norms as far as we can. That is the best that can now be done,” said R N Tagore International Institute of Cardiac Sciences (RTIICS) consultant Arindam Biswas.
The sharp spurt proves that the lockdown has merely pushed the inevitable back, according to AMRI Hospitals consultant Debashish Saha. “This was waiting to happen and we will either win or lose the battle over the next three-four weeks. If travel remains unregulated, we are staring at an epidemic that we can’t fight,” said Saha.
Within the city, travelling on a bus or an auto or walking down a crowded road makes you several times more likely to catch the virus even if you are following safety precautions, they said. “Transmission may happen even if you interact with your fellow passenger without a mask. So, it’s now more imperative to stick to the precautions,” said Biswas.
Experts suggested that travelling should still be restricted and time spent outdoors kept minimum. “Many would now be forced to return to office where maintaining social distancing will be a challenge. More importantly, transmission is more likely to happen in offices since you are required to handle objects that could aid transmission. So, it’s better to wear gloves,” said Biswas.
Constant air-conditioning inside an office could help transmission, warned Belle Vue internal medicine consultant Rahul Jain. “Rather than a constant temperature, intermittent air-conditioning is better. Cross-ventilation and a temperature fluctuation is better than having a constant temperature inside an enclosed office space,” said Jain.