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Rain & landslides hit north Bengal, Sikkim
Very heavy rains over the past 24 hours inundated large areas in Jalpaiguri, Cooch Behar and Alipurduar districts of north Bengal and triggered landslides in neighbouring Sikkim.

Alipurduar town recorded 345mm of rainfall during the period, resulting in an alarming rise in the water level of the Kaljani river. The sluice gates of the Alipurduar municipality have been locked and 15 out of the 20 wards of the town are under water.

At some places in the town, the water level is as high as waist length.

The civic body used eight pump sets to suck water from the town and into the Kaljani river. Six boats were pressed into service to shift people to shelters at higher places while others have been provided with tarpaulin sheets to protect them from the rains.

People have expressed anger at the lack of drainage system in the town. “The Alipurduar municipality is 70 years old, but it has yet to develop a proper drainage system. Political parties of all hues promise to address the issue at the time of elections, but conveniently forget all once they come to power,” said a resident.

In many tea gardens of the Dooars, roads have been damaged, culverts washed away, tea bushes eroded and communication disrupted. No plucking could take place in many tea gardens because of the torrential rainfall.

Surendra Kumar Meena, the district magistrate of Alipurduar, visited the embankment in the Subhashini Tea Estate and Central Dooars Tea Estate and inspected the repairs.

In Jalpaiguri district, the water level of the Teesta river has increased, affecting more than 1,000 people in the Mainaguri block. The affected people have taken shelter on the embankments. Ward 25 of Jalpaiguri town, too, is under water. The district recorded 145mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours.

The Trinamul Congress has opened a community kitchen for the affected people.

Cooch Behar district recorded 136mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. The water level of the Torsha has risen and the affected people have been shifted to higher places. Disaster management team and civil defence personnel have been engaged to tackle the situation.

In Sikkim, heavy rains triggered multiple landslides, disrupting road links and damaging houses in different parts of the state, particularly in West and North districts.

The worst affected is West Sikkim where landslides have washed away road formations at some places and blocked roads at others.

“About 10 road links in the district, including Rimbi-Yuksom, Yuksom-Tashiding, Chongrang-Labdang and Rimbi-Khechepalri, have either been severed or blocked because of landslides,” said an official of the district administration.

In North Sikkim, at least 11 villages in Dzongu continued to remain cut off from the rest of the state because of landslides.

In Mangan, the district headquarters, a slide brought down a portion of a multi-storied building that had suffered cracks earlier in June-end. No one was injured in the incident.

“Landslides have either partially or completely damaged many houses in other parts of the state as well. Our officers have spread out in the field to make an assessment. We will be able to give a figure once they submit their reports,” said a source in the Sikkim State Disaster Management Authority.

Rain leaves Siliguri areas water-logged
Life came to a virtual halt in several areas in Siliguri town and its suburbs following torrential rainfall for the past 24 hours that led to water-logging and kept people mostly indoors. The Siliguri Municipal Corporation (SMC) has pressed water pumps into service in some wards to drain out the accumulated water.

The incessant rainfall has left Wards like 4, 5, 30, 31, 37, 38 and 39 water-logged, while many people were stuck in their homes. Motorists also had a tough time negotiating the accumulated water on the roads in the affected areas, and people at some placed were seen wading through kneedeep waters.

According to the irrigation and waterways department, Siliguri received 44.60 mm of rainfall in the past 24 hours. The rainfall also led to a rise in the water level of the Mahananda river. Many agricultural fields, including vast swathes of paddy land in the rural fringes, were also submerged under water, it is learnt.

Some areas in blocks under the Siliguri Sub Division were also waterlogged, sources said. The water pumping machines are being used to flush out the water in the town’s Wards based on the requirements, officials said.

Civic body commissioner Sonam Wangdi Bhutia said they were monitoring the situation. “We are keeping a close watch on the situation, while we are also taking necessary steps,” Mr Bhutia said.

State forms special team to treat Covid patients in N Bengal
Kolkata: With an aim to check deaths due to comorbidities among the COVID-19 affected patients in North Bengal, the state Health department has formed a special team consisting of eight superspecialist doctors who will provide treatment at North Bengal Medical College and Hospital and Siliguri's COVID hospital. The step has been taken after the Health department found that almost all the patients who died of COVID so far in North Bengal had various comorbidities. These patients did not survive because they had various other ailments. As a result, the department is now trying to ensure that expert doctors address the comorbidities issues of the elderly patients. The patients did not die only because of COVID but they had many other ailments which led to their death, observed the doctors at the COVID hospitals. The health department has already instructed all the hospitals across the state which have been treating COVID patients to stress upon the comorbidities issues of the corona patients to reduce the mortality rate. Guidelines have been issued by the health department in this regard.

Almost 81 per cent of the total deaths across the state happened due to comorbidity issues which are mostly hypertension, diabetes, cardiac diseases, chronic kidney disease (CKD) and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD). The special team includes neurosurgeon, orthopedic surgeon, critical care specialist and psychiatrist and other expert doctors. The team will treat those COVID affected patients who would require superspecialty treatment. The special team of doctors will also provide assistance to other doctors at the two hospitals. The district health officials felt the need of constituting an expert team of doctors during a review meeting last month. The health officials carried out an assessment and found that the patients died in the hospitals mainly because of the comorbidities. After getting clearance from the health department the district health officials formed the special team. A similar team of expert doctors may also be formed in Malda who will cover the adjoining districts.

Two more die in Siliguri
Two persons died at the Desun (Covid) Hospital at Kawakhali in Siliguri today. A 40-year-old resident of Salugara was admitted in the hospital after being referred by the Siliguri District Hospital. Another 60-year-old resident of Pradhannagar area, who was admitted in the hospital on 7 July, died today.

Meanwhile, Ward 35 under the Siliguri Municipal Corporation recorded the highest single-day number of cases (14), while a total of 39 cases have been found in the civic body area in the past 24 hours, including in Wards 4, 8, 14 and 35. Former Deputy Mayor tests positive:RSP leader and former Deputy Mayor of Siliguri, Ram Bhajan Mahato, has, meanwhile, tested positive for the virus.

He is undergoing treatment in a private nursing home in Siliguri, sources said. Doctors’ team formed: On the other hand, the administration has prepared a list of doctors who are treating Covid-19 patients and suspected Covid-19 patients at government-run facilities. The health department had earlier announced the formation of an-eight member team of experts of eight different disciplines to check deaths of Covid-19 patients in Siliguri on 26 June.

However, the deaths continue unabated. An order issued by the Darjeeling district magistrate on 8 July stated that a team of specialists/super-specialist doctors had been formed to assist two dedicated hospitals or Covid-19 patients and the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH) in treating Covid-19/suspected patients.

Health department officials have attributed the death of most of the Covid-19 patients to their co-morbidity like neurological and nephrological problems, while they have also said delayed admission of the patients were also to blame.

According to the list issued today, the team of doctors are endocrinologist Dr Subhodip Pramanik, neuro-surgeon Dr Malay Chakrabarty, critical care specialist Dr Ayan Banerjee, physician Dr Sekhar Chakrabarty, psychiatrist Dr Avik Layek, cardiologist Dr Indrajit Mondal, neuro-physician Dr Durga Prasad Chakrabarty, and orthopedic surgeon Dr TK Ghosh.

Health department sources said the doctors have already started treating patients. A total of 35 persons, who had tested positive for Covid-19 in Siliguri, including the SMC area, and four blocks under the sub-division, have died since 5 April so far. No death had taken place in May. Most of the deaths occurred in June and July.M ore containment zones: The Darjeeling district administration has notified that the Siliguri Town Market area covering the local bus stand and railway crossing at Bagrakot, which partly falls under Wards 18 and 20, and Nivedita Road (from Champasari Road to Gurung Busty market, then upto the road near Siliguri Model High School), have now been marked as containment zones.

Darjeeling DM S Ponnambalam said the containment areas had been set up in addition to the zones previously announced. 43 more cases in Malda: Meanwhile, 43 more persons, including a four-year-old boy from English Bazaar Municipality (EBM) were tested positive for the virus in Malda last night. Most of the new cases are from the EBM area (16), and Kaliachak I and II, both nine each.

On the other hand, three cases are from Kaliachak III, and two from Old Malda Municipality. The total number of affected persons in the district has crossed the 1000 mark, with a total of 1031 cases now, and seven deaths. However, officials said more than 600 of the patients have been cured of the virus.

26 more in North Dinajpur: In North Dinajpur, more than 26 fresh cases have been detected in the past two days. Nine of the cases have been found in the Raiganj municipality and they are residents of Ward 4, 7, 16, 20 and 22, sources said. Six are from Chopra block, seven, including six health care workers, are from Islampur, one from Dalkhola municipality, one in Goalpokhar and another one from Chakulia. Officials have marked 31 containment zones in the district.

“Nine residents of our municipality have been found positive. They have been taken in the Covid hospital. We have started intensive awareness among the people to fight the virus,” the Chairman of the Raiganj Municipality, Sandip Biswas, said.

West Bengal reports 1,200 new COVID-19 cases, 26 more dead
West Bengal on Friday reported a record 1,198 cases, and 26 deaths as it continued to reel from a continued upswing in fatalities and infections.

This was the second 1,000-plus increase in daily cases in as many days — the statewide count rose to 27,109 — while the toll rose to 880 after the sixth straight day of more than 20 fatalities. This week there have already been three consecutive record rises in cases, and this surge pushed up the active caseload to 8,881 on Friday.

Among those who have tested positive are actress Koel Mallick, her husband and movie producer Nispal Singh Rane, mother Deepa Mallick, and father Ranjit Mallick, who is a renowned actor.

While infections in the state have surged, the rise in recoveries, seen mid-June, has stalled. This month, the discharge rate has been 61.02 per cent, almost three percentage points less than the overall recovery rate of 63.99 per cent. The discharge rate has been consistently dropping since July 4.

Keeping with the trend, Kolkata, and the adjoining districts of North 24 Parganas, South 24 Parganas and Howrah continued to report the bulk of the cases and deaths. On Friday, these districts reported 936 or 78% of the latest infections, and 24 of the deaths. The only other two fatalities occurred in Malda and Purba Medinipur districts.

According to the government data, almost 82 per cent of the infections and 90 per cent of the fatalities this month have been reported from Kolkata, its adjoining districts, and Hooghly.

Infections, also continued to climb in Malda and Darjeeling in North Bengal on Friday as the two districts reported a combined 77 cases. Of the other districts in the region, Jalpaiguri has reported 109 cases this month, and has an active caseload of 104 at present.

Meanwhile, Jhargram district became Covid-free for the third time after the six patients in the district hospital were discharged.

Rain helps in lockdown in north Bengal
Steady rain in most districts of north Bengal since Friday morning came as a relief for the administration as the showers and the resultant waterlogging kept people indoors in the containment zones.

As part of a plan to ensure strict enforcement of the lockdown, policemen and civic volunteers were posted at the entry points of the zones which were barricaded.

“Our men were there to ensure that people did not move out of their homes other than for emergencies. The steady rain helped as people remained indoors,” said a senior police officer in Siliguri.

According to the officer, the police detained some people, who had defied the lockdown, but, in most cases, the offenders were sent back home.

Similar was the situation in other districts, including Malda, the district that has recorded close to 1,000 Covid-19 cases, the highest in any district of north Bengal.

“It is good that it rained throughout the day. During the lockdown, we have seen how a section of people loiter in the streets without proper reasons. Despite efforts by the police and administration to keep them inside, some of them always try to slip out of their homes. The rainfall

has kept many of them indoors,” said Subhamoy Basu, a former Trinamul councillor in Malda.

Since Friday early morning, it rained throughout north Bengal and also in the neighbouring state of Sikkim. Met office sources said it rained over 100mm in a number of places, particularly in the Dooars. They include Malbazar (143mm), Hasimara (110mm), Samsing (213mm), Jaldhakar (165mm), Neora (117mm) and Jhalong (248mm).

The rainfall, both in the hills and plains, led to rise in the water levels of most rivers, including the Teesta.

In Sikkim, a high alert has been sounded in Singtam of East district following a steady rise in the water levels of Teesta.

“People living in low-lying areas are at risk. Though there hasn’t been any evacuation, emergency workers have been kept ready in the area,” said a source. 

Also, in the downstream, the irrigation department of Bengal has sounded a red (secondary) alert in the unprotected areas on both banks of Teesta from Domohoni (near Jalpaiguri) and till Mekhliganj (where the river enters Bangladesh).

“People living close to the banks have been asked to shift to safer places. Also, in protected areas (where there are embankments), a yellow (primary) alert has been sounded,” said Abhishek Tiwary, DM, Jalpaiguri.

The rainfall has also caused waterlogging in some of the areas of Jalpaiguri town, leaving hundreds of residents amid inconvenience.

Weather experts, who had earlier hinted about the downpour, said there is a forecast of more rainfall in the region during next three days, starting from Saturday.

“In some places, it may rain around 200mm or even more. People should be on alert,” said a weather expert.

Three dead

Three farmers died at Runia village under Raiganj police station of North Dinajpur and eight others got injured as they were struck by lightning on Friday afternoon. Sources said all of them were planting paddy seedlings when the incident occurred. Among the injured, six have been admitted at a local health centre while the remaining two have been shifted to RGMCH.

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