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Kolkata:

 
After drawing flak for its low rate of COVID-19 tests, the West Bengal government has now decided to take swab samples of all symptomatic as also asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case as part of its containment and treatment strategies in high-risk spots.

“Swab samples be taken for all symptomatic contacts, and all asymptomatic direct and high-risk contacts of a confirmed case as per Indian Council for Medical Research guidelines,” the state health department said in a memo.

The swab samples will also be taken “in clusters/quarantine centres, as deemed fit by the local administration,” the department said in the memo.

The central government has identified four districts — Kolkata, 24 Parganas (North), East Midnapore and Howrah — as hotspots, where a higher number of COVID 19 infected cases have been recorded.

Central government functionaries, state opposition parties and doctors have in the past few days criticised the low number of COVID-19 tests in Bengal.

The criticism has got shriller after the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED) chief Shanta Dutta on Monday said the number of tests are too low compared to the state’s population and density.

“I must say that the number is too low if you compare the number of states with the population in West Bengal. If you compare the testing done in other states, the number is definitely low,” she said.

The coronavirus death count in the state rose to ten on Thursday with the audit committee confirming three more loss of lives due to the deadly disease.

Twenty-four new cases have been reported in the state since Wednesday, taking the total number of active cases to 144, said state Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha.

According to the Central government, the cumulative number of COVID-19 cases since the outbreak of the disease in the state is 213.

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