COVID-19 in Bengal: Central teams say mortality rate is “extremely high”, alleges non-cooperation by state govt

The Inter-ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) from the Central government led by Apurva Chandra – that had come down to West Bengal to review the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) situation – in a letter to the state’s chief secretary Rajiva Sinha wrote that the state “needs to be transparent and consistent in reporting figures and not downplay the spread of the virus”.

Chandra wrote the letter before leaving the state after their two weeks’ visit in the state to inspect the situation on the ground. He mentioned in his letter that “the total death count of COVID patients in the state [increasing to] 105 on 30.4.2020 [and] For a total reported number of 744 + 72 = 816 COVID patients, the mortality rate of 12.8% is by far the highest in the country. This extremely high mortality rate is a clear indication of low testing and weak surveillance and tracking”.

Chandra, a special secretary in the Central government and leader of the teams that came to the state alleged that “the state government has taken an antagonistic view to the IMCT and has not supported the IMCT in the performance of its duties. This contrasts with the experience of IMCTs deputed to other states at the same time where daily schedules of visits by the IMCTs were prepared and meetings were held by the IMCTs from the highest levels of the state government to the field level functionaries.”

Another Central team will reach Kolkata “to assist the state in implementing the containment measures for COVID-19 in the affected areas,” a press release by the Centre said. Such teams are being sent to 20 districts or cities “that are reporting the maximum number of COVID-19 cases in the country”.

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