Mass flouting of Covid-19 norms, especially in the form of public rallies in states holding elections, has become a major cause for the surge in infections, experts said. And West Bengal, which is witnessing a high-decibel campaign in an eight-phase election, bears testimony to the fact, with cases skyrocketing and every Covid-related figure painting a disappointing picture for the state.
At 1.7%, Bengal now has the third-highest Covid-19 fatality rate in India, the national average being 1.3%. The figure is the same as Maharashtra, the worst affected state in the country. Bengal is only behind Punjab and Sikkim in this regard.
In terms of test positivity rate (TPR), the state has rapidly reached the seventh position in India. Bengal has a positivity rate of 6.5% against the all-India average of 5.2%. TPR is the share of people who’ve tested positive for the virus among the total people tested.
In comparison to the neighbouring states of Bihar, Jharkhand, Odisha and Assam, Bengal has seen the steepest spike in new cases in the last month. The seven-day moving average of new cases shows as of 12 April, Bengal is registering 3,040 cases every day, much ahead of Bihar (2,122), Jharkhand (1,734), Odisha (981) and Assam (234).
Even as the number of cumulative cases in Bengal is less than in many other states, the rapid rise in new infections has evolved as a concern for it. The doubling time of cases has decreased by 15 times since the election dates were announced on 26 February. The doubling time of new cases was over 2,000 days by the end of February 2021, which has dropped to only 138 days as of 12 April.
Bengal is only halfway through elections, with the remaining phases scheduled on 17, 22, 26 and 29 April. With every political party engaged in a show of strength and trying aggressively to woo the electorate, adherence to Covid-19 protocols in the state remains a distant dream.