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Spl arrangements made for RAT of candidates & counting agents

Spl arrangements made for RAT of candidates & counting agents
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Kolkata: With the Election Commission of India (ECI) mandating Covid negative report for entry in the counting venues on May 2 — the day of poll results — the District Election Officers (DEOs) in the state are undertaking all arrangements to conduct Covid tests for all candidates and their counting agents.

"We will be having Rapid Antigen Tests (RAT) as reports can be made available within an hour. All the DEOs are making special arrangements in the form of camps in their respective districts for conducting this exercise. All the candidates have been asked to sent names of at least 20 per cent more of counting agents so that replacements can be made without much hassle if somebody tests positive," a senior official of the state administration said.

Candidates or counting agents are also free to make arrangements on their own for undergoing Covid tests in any authorised laboratory or may also attend testing camps organised in district-level.

There are 2,116 candidates who have contested in the eight phases of elections and the number of counting agents in the districts varies depending upon the number of Assembly constituencies and number of candidates who had contested in each constituency.

"We have held a video conference with the candidates in the morning and they have already submitted names of counting agents and have also given names of additional 30 per cent more agents. We need to conduct around 8,000 tests and have already asked the state Health department for adequate kits. Tests will be held on Friday and Saturday and arrangements for the exercise are being made in almost all the distribution centres in the district," Antara Acharya, DEO South 24-Parganas said. The district has 31 Assembly constituencies .

Arvind Kumar Mina, DEO, North Dinajpur with 9 Assembly constituencies has made arrangements for 2,000 tests while West Burdwan with the same number of ACs has to hold more or less the same number of tests. "We have made arrangements for holding RAT tests in each of the Assembly constituencies and the state Health department has ensured adequate supply of kits," a senior district official of West Burdwan said.

Trinamool Congress candidate from Bhowanipore seat Sobhandeb Chattopadhyay said that he has finalised the names of his polling agents who have already taken two doses of vaccine as they are permitted to enter the counting venue. "I will myself make arrangements for Covid tests of my agents and for myself too," he added. Chattopadhyay will have 21 counting agents.

TMC candidate Subhasish Batabyal of Chatna seat in Bankura will have 36 counting agents.

"I have provided 42 names to the DEO so that there is no problem if somebody tests positive. Arrangement of tests have been made by the district administration at every block," he added.

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