MP Raju Bista wrote to Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, requesting her urgent intervention towards the unfolding COVID crisis in North Bengal, especially in the districts of Darjeeling and Kalimpong.
While addressing the CM Mamata Banerjee, he highlighted that there is only one government RT-PCR testing laboratory at the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital (NBMCH), which caters to a large population and as a result, there is a huge backlog of RT-PCR tests and test results are getting delayed by 5-7 days.
Despite showing COVID symptoms, people are hesitant to test because of the delays and many hospitals in the region have temporarily stopped conducting RT-PCR tests due to existing backlogs. This is a dangerous trend, as many COVID patients are going undetected.
MP Bista informed that there is an urgent need for a second RT-PCR lab to be established at the Triveni COVID hospital to address the COVID testing demands of Darjeeling-Kalimpong hills, as well as those from the districts of Jalpaiguri and Alipurduar. Since health is a state subject, he further requested the Chief Minister of West Bengal to send a formal request to the Union government. He pledged for his full cooperation in getting the Union Government approval within days of her sending the request.
"I have also highlighted that Siliguri being the biggest city in the region, patients from all over North Bengal travel here for treatment. This has caused massive shortage of ICU beds, Ventilator beds and Oxygen beds in Siliguri and nearby areas. Due to the lack of proper COVID care in government hospitals, people are forced to get their treatment in private hospitals. I have received many complaints of a few private hospitals charging excess fees for COVID care," MP Bista added.
Darjeeling MP requested CM Mamata Banerjee to regulate COVID treatment costs at private hospitals, many of the patients come from economically marginalized sections of the society. He also requested her for increasing the number of Ventilator, ICU, and Oxygen beds in all the government hospitals in the region, and for ensuring an immediate supply of lifesaving medicines and equipment at the earliest.
Reportedly, many people have raised the issue of the non-availability of vaccines in Darjeeling, Kalimpong, and other districts of North Bengal. In view of this, Raju Bista is obliged to request CM Banerjee to kindly increase the pace of COVID vaccination in the region. He has appealed to restart COVID Care facilities developed during the 1st Wave and to establish standard testing labs in Darjeeling and Kalimpong hills so that people do not have to travel to far-off places.
MP Raju Bista said that he is hopeful that the Chief Minister of West Bengal will consider the inputs he has shared. He has assured her of his full cooperation and support towards addressing these concerns.