A police checkpoint at Howrah Bridge in Kolkata | Representational image | ANI
A police checkpoint at Howrah Bridge in Kolkata | Representational image | ANI
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Kolkata: The Covid-19 toll for West Bengal went up by three times Friday, hours after the central government wrote to the state chief secretary asking for “case records” of all coronavirus-linked fatalities that had been attributed to other causes by an expert panel constituted by the Mamata Banerjee government. The panel was formed earlier this month to “audit” coronavirus fatalities reported by hospitals in the state. 

The state government said Friday that 57 Covid-19 patients had died in West Bengal but sought to clarify that 39 of these had succumbed to “comorbid conditions”. Coronavirus infection, it added, was ruled “incidental” in their death. Until Thursday, figures released by the state government had pegged the number of deaths at 15.

The fresh information came hours after the inter-ministerial central team (IMCT) wrote to West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, seeking answers on the formation and functioning of the expert committee. 


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‘57 deaths evaluated so far’

At a press conference Friday, Sinha said the committee had submitted a comprehensive report that stated it had so far “evaluated” 57 deaths. The committee, he added, had ruled Covid-19 as the primary and direct cause of death in 18 of these cases. In the remaining 39, Sinha said, coronavirus was declared an “incidental finding” and the deaths were attributed to “severe comorbid conditions”. 

Global trends thus far have indicated that coronavirus, which has an overall low fatality rate, is quite lethal for those with comorbid conditions such as diabetes and hypertension, and the elderly. This fact raises questions about the government’s approach to analysing coronavirus fatalities.

The expert committee

The expert committee of five doctors that audits Covid-19 fatalities in West Bengal was formed on 3 April. 

Only three coronavirus deaths were declared in West Bengal before the committee was formed and the figure has been updated only six times in three weeks. The committee is said to meet twice a week to determine the cause of death. 

The committee comprises the state’s director for medical education. It follows a checklist of at least 24 points, including comorbid conditions, to ascertain “the cause of death” of a person “who has tested positive for Covid-19”.

Other checkpoints include providing a patient’s history, including “duration and type of fever, sore throat, breathlessness, complete blood count, sodium and potassium levels” etc. 

Hospitals across the state have been asked to adhere to the checklist and attach “supporting documents” for an “audit” by the expert committee.

According to the expert panel’s report submitted Friday, accessed by ThePrint, the “committee examined all the relevant documents including… treatment history, laboratory investigation reports, death certificate and other documents sent by the hospitals concerned” and found 18 deaths to be the result of Covid-19.

The rest were attributed to “comorbid conditions” like “cardiomyopathy with chronic kidney disease, renal failure, cerebro-vascular-accident, acute lymphoblastic leukaemia, multi-organ failure in type-II diabetes and so on”.  

Asked if the distinction made in the classification of Covid-19-linked deaths was in line with ICMR guidelines, Sinha said it was a technical issue he couldn’t comment on. 

“There are doctors in the expert committee. They had taken up cases of death that happened even before the committee was formed. The medical reasoning and cause of death can only be determined by doctors. We are bureaucrats and we cannot comment on that,” he added. 


Also Read: 3 Bengal districts tagged hotspot by Modi govt ‘haven’t reported Covid-19 cases in a week’


A nudge from IMCTs 

The IMCT, which landed in West Bengal three days ago amid much opposition from the Mamata Banerjee dispensation, shot off two letters to the state government Friday, seeking a five-point clarification about the expert committee. 

The letter, signed by IMCT leader Apurva Chandra, seeks the government order issued to constitute the committee, case records of all Covid-19 fatalities attributed to other causes by the panel, time taken by the committee in coming to the conclusion, whether there are similar committees in the state to ascertain the cause of death for other diseases, and whether such a committee is in line with ICMR guidelines or medical practice. The IMCT also requested an interaction with the committee. There are currently two IMCTs in Bengal, both led by Chandra.

Since the IMCT’s arrival, the state appears to be reporting more cases of Covid-19. 

For instance, according to the health bulletin issued 17 April, the total number of active cases was 162. On 20 April, the figure was 245, a rise just under than 100. Four days later, on 24 April, the state reported 385 active cases, an increase of 140. 

Testing has also picked up. While 4,212 samples had been tested by 17 April, the number was 5,469 by 20 April and 8,933 by 24 April. The average per-day testing figures have shot up to 943 from 240.

Addressing the media Thursday, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee weighed in on the discrepancy. She said the central government was either sending faulty kits or withdrawing the ones sent, adding that testing had picked up because the state was procuring kits on its own. 

The IMCT’s letters Friday also raise questions about the state’s testing and reporting patterns, besides some “infrastructural issues” at local hospitals.

However, the Trinamool Congress sought to defend its handling of the crisis. 

“The problem surfaced here as the Centre sent us all faulty kits. We could not conduct the required number of tests as we did not have kits,” Santanu Sen, a Trinamool Congress MP and former member of the Indian Medical Association (IMA) said.  


Also Read: Mamata gives Rs 10 lakh insurance cover to journalists, asks them to report positive news


 

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21 Comments Share Your Views

21 COMMENTS

  1. Death of comorbidity is the main reason behind it. If it were there, people could have a chance to die at least by diarrhea. The expert committee must be revived and all death cases should be examined and examined and examined at least for 10 years — these are the preconditions of bringing back the covid death. And no doctor should have any right to say anything about death.

  2. it is mamta’s dirty politics, hiding the facts to save her image, this lowest level of politics taking the lives of people.

  3. There are illegal immigrants mostly from Bangladesh who are staying here in particular kalimpong district illegally. there are many cases but NOT shown in numbers because it the cause of death is revealed then,they even have to show their nationality!!! this is why… numbers are wrong. I hope modi ji would address this issue and take necessary actions!!!!!

  4. Come on and get alerted, people of Bengal, it is time to retrospect yourself for your present condition, your state gave the intelligent and patriotic personalities to the nation, now it is the time to select and elect the patriotic leader for your development and for a bright future.

  5. Come on and get alerted, people of Bengal, it is time to retrospect yourself for your present condition, your state gave the intelligent and patriotic personalities to the nation, now it is the time to select and elect the patriotic leader for your development and for a bright future.

  6. How can Mamatadi show the numbers as there is a huge numbers of illegal immigrants are staying in West Bengal. If a death occurs of the illegals , she has to show the nationality of the deceased. So no report of death, no death certificate & no questions will be asked.

    God save us. ( Bengali Hindus)

  7. CAN ANYONE PLEASE FILE A CRIMINAL CASE IN THE CALCUTTA HIGH COURT FOR CULPABLE HOMICIDE NOT AMOUNTING TO MURDER FOR WILLFUL NEGLIGENCE AND DISREGARD TO CENTRAL GUIDELINES AGAINST COVID-19, LOCKDOWN AND NON-REPORTING MEDICAL CONDITIONS. Along with the CM, show-cause the Principal Secretary of WB who submitted his backbone to the illiterate cadres of the party.

  8. Every catastrophe offers some vicious opportunities to some morbid leaders who find dividends by grabbing rations meant for poor out of which some is distributed to their own lot, by supplying poor quality food fudging with quantity at exorbitant prices, Didi has put in place new syndicate at works.

    It is mind boggling to observe the way Corona cases are being handled. It is clear that TJ have become carriers of this deadly virus knowingly or unknowingly and if these facts are revealed in public domain, Didi may lose non muslim votebank hence, all the secrecy. However, public already know this fact and presence of TJ in bengal and how they are spreading it. Didi may snatch few voters by distributing ration to BJP voters on condition of changing sides but lose hugely if Corona bubble bursts in bengal. It’d be impossible to put blame on centre. First, CAA & now Corona, her core votebank has created fear among bhadra bengali manush which may bring her fall so it would be politically wise for Didi to tie all loose knots and act fast.

  9. Mamtaj govt should immediately be terminated and central rule imposed in west bengal for quick recovery from covid 19. Else the whole state will get infected soon.

  10. Can the local administration update the number 57 as it’s now 2 days old or shall we wait for the second round of Audit before it gets updated.

  11. Can the department update the number 57, which is now 2 days old. This will help the CITIZENS of West Bengal in understanding the ground realty and take self precautionary measures.

  12. Mamata Banerjee and her cronies are an absolute disgrace to this country. Deception, deception and deception. Unfortunately, the stupid Bengali community in west Bengal keep supporting the lady.
    I know that CPM brought Bengal to the drain, Mamata Banerjee is completing the task by flushing West Bengal down the drain.
    Rest in peace state of West Bengal

  13. This is clear case of under reporting as I have pointed out earlier.

    WB govt is intentionally hiding the figures and not testing enough hotspots of pieceful community.

    I will not be surprised if West Bengal takes the lead in no of cases and deaths in a month putting behind Maharashtra a distant second.

    You should know by know what I am drifting towards but can’t stop myself from stating a fact.

    Pieceful community transmission will wreak havoc in West Bengal if appeasement politics is followed because of political correctness.

    Didi’s short sightedness will result in large no of deaths but she need not worry as pieceful community would still vote for her en masses following the age old tradition.

  14. There you go. We have our own version of Xi Jinping covering up the deaths. Dark days ahead. May God bless West Bengal !!!

  15. There is no difference between Chinese government & Mumtaj government.
    Hiding truth to maximum extents

    57 deaths in 514 cases means more than 10% fatality rate. Three times higher compared to any other states. It does also proof that the health facilities in West Bengal is a showpiece & fragile, it can’t even handle 514 cases properly

  16. From the articles by Madhuparna Das,it is apparent that elements of comorbidity also infest areas beyond the dead bodies of those declared dead so far.
    There is something very fishy and strange-as if that State which has the minimal Corona infections/deaths will have its CM or Chief Secy be rewarded with the Bharat Ratna or some such award.
    Bengalis will be happy seeing such happen. We are all suffering from live comorbidity by the entertainment provided by the powers that be, including the Governor. We do not know what is happening except that something vicious and dangerous is about to grip our lives, much after most other States would have been rewarded fro their efforts to contain or enhance their Corona Infections.
    We are a tragic race since the passage of Dr BC Roy. Even Dr. Pranab Mukherjee did more for himself and the rest of India than Bengal. Jyotis became Buddhas and now are oozing of mamatas.
    We are an unluckier race than others in India. Our leaders have had their priorities different, their trajectories reinvented on unique definitions of community betterment. Only Dadas and Didis can save us with their wisdom, if they have any left; unless a disciple of Ramakrishna Parahamsha or Swami Vivekananda does something more…..

  17. WHY MAMATAJI HIDING COVID DEATH ? WHAT SHE TELLING VERY FALSE A COVID 19 PATIENT WHEN HE/SHE DIES DUE TO VIRIOUS SOME ORGAN MUST DAMAGE AND IT IS DUE TO VIROUS ATTACK DO NOT IT? SHE OPPOSES THE CRIME BY NIJAMUDDIN
    SHE SHAVED AS NO EMERGENCY IN INGIA DECLARED [ NIJAMUDDIN TRIED TO SPREAD COVID 19 -IE AN ATTACK BY VIROUSE
    AND PARTLY SUCCESSFUL-IT WAS A TERRORIST TYPE OF ATTACK]

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