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Bengal govt increases PICU, NICU beds as 2 more infants die


Ashok Chatterjee

Kolkata (The Hawk): With two more infants dying in Malda Medical College on Friday, the total number of casualties has climbed to five till now. Another three infants have died in Jalpaiguri.

All the deaths have been attributed to influenza and RS Virus (respiratory syncytial). Hundreds of babies have been admitted at different state hospitals especially in North Bengal with cold, fever and breathlessness symptoms.

Meanwhile, a health department team, comprising IPGMIR microbiology departmental head Raja Ray, director of health services (public health) Pallab Bhattacharya, additional health director Bikash Chandra Mondal, Sagar Dutta Hospital community medicine departmental head Diptikanti Mukherjee and Calcutta Medical College associate professor Mihir Sarkar reached North Bengal on Friday and held several rounds of meetings with senior health officials.

North Bengal health department officer on special duty (OSD) Dr Sushanta Ray, who also attended the meeting, said, “A state level team reviewed the situation. Monitoring teams have been formed in various districts. Infants with this kind of fever get admitted every year. We are planning to increase the number of beds from 120 to 170.”

The state government, however, had asked all the medical colleges to increase beds in the pediatric ICU of the hospitals and also in the neonatal wards.

According to a notice floated by the West Bengal health department, the department has sanctioned 435 new Pediatric Intensive Care Unit (PICU) beds in addition to the 244 already sanctioned PICU beds. At the same time 90 NICU beds have been sanctioned at IPGMER and Murshidabad Medical College and Hospital.

As is the wont, a political slugfest has already started between the ruling party and the opposition. The West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar has also criticised the state for its shoddy handling of the situation.

Dhankhar, on Friday, said that the situation of infants dying every day is ‘heart wrenching’ and also that the state government should immediately seek assistance from the Central government.

“The central government is aware of the situation and has also expressed their concern over the issue. The TMC government should immediately seek assistance from the central government,” said Dhankhar.

Slamming the governor, West Bengal panchayat minister Subrata Mukherjee said that it has become a habit of the governor to comment on everything.

West Bengal Bharatiya Janata Party president Dilip Ghosh said that the Trinamool Congress (TMC)-led government should immediately seek support from the centre to curb the “new menace”.

“So many mothers are becoming childless. This problem should be immediately tackled,” said Ghosh.