More than 700 children in West Bengal are suffering from fever and respiratory troubles, News18 reported on Friday. Three children have died in the state, according the news channel, but another report in The Hindu put the number of deaths at six.
Blood samples collected from some of the patients have been found to be infected with “influenza B, respiratory syncytial [causes respiratory tract infections] and human parainfluenza viruses [associated with bronchitis and pneumonia],” News 18 reported.
A total of 760 cases of infection among children have been recorded in North Bengal as of September 15, the news channel reported, citing official data.
Dr Susanta Kumar Roy, a senior medical officer in the state, some people were causing “unnecessary panic” about the situation, News18 reported.
The official added: “The fact is, in Jalpaiguri [a district in North Bengal] the number of paediatric patients is less when we compare it from July-September, 2017, to July-September, 2019.”
West Bengal Health Secretary Narayan Swaroop Nigam said the government has made arrangements for more hospital beds. “Our medical teams consisting of senior doctors are there in North Bengal to attend the matter,” he told News18.
However, even as state officials suggested that the situation was under control, Bharatiya Janata Party leader Suvendu Adhikari asked the Centre to send teams to West Bengal.
Adhikari also called on the state government to take immediate action, The Hindu reported.
“I urge West Bengal health secretary to kindly take note of the distressing news coming from North Bengal, where more than 750 children have been admitted in hospitals for high fever & undetected flu-like symptoms,” he said.
The Trinamool Congress criticised the BJP for politicising the matter ahead of the bye-election in Bhabanipur in Kolkata, which is crucial for Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee to win.
Trinamool Congress MLA Nirmal Majhi told News18: “The situation is under control and we have put all resources in North Bengal for child health care. The number of cases has gone down. I would like to request BJP leaders not to play politics over children’s health.”