Even as two more deaths because of encephalitis were reported in north Bengal over the past 24 hours, Minister of State for Health Chandrima Bhattacharya said on Saturday that the situation is under control.
Ms. Bhattacharya visited north Bengal during the day and held a meeting with North Bengal Development Minister Guatm Deb at Uttarknaya, the north Bengal arm of the State Secretariat.
“According to reports I have received, 71 persons died in North Bengal Medical College and Hospital itself. Situation is under control now. We have directed the health officials to keep the blood testing centres open for 24 hours,” Ms. Bhattacharya said after the meeting.
According to senior health officials, the death toll has touched 109. After north Bengal, a 12-year-old child had died of encephalitis in Murshidabad district in south Bengal. Justifying the action against three health officials, Ms. Bhattacharya said that she came to know about the outbreak of the disease on a visit to north Bengal on July 15 from journalists.
Three senior health officials, including the Chief Medical Officer of Health of Darjeeling and Jalpaiguri districts, were suspended on Friday for ‘suppressing the facts’ related to the outbreak of the disease. The State government has worked on war-footing to control the situation, she added.
Meanwhile, Animal Resources Development Department has identified 500 piggeries that need to be shifted. Though encephalitis is a mosquito-borne disease, pigs are intermediate hosts.
“We are shutting these piggeries. We are buying those pigs from the owners as per the government rate. Only those pigs carrying the virus will be purchased by the State government,” Minister for Animal Resources Development Department Swapan Debnath said.
Among those visiting north Bengal was also Darjeeling MP S S Ahluwalia, who visited North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in the day. Mr. Ahluwalia said that the situation has taken alarming proportions as the State government has failed to take action in time.