Confusion Over Bengal’s Corona Count: State Government Disputes Figures Given By Its Health Panel, Cites These Reasons

Confusion Over Bengal’s Corona Count: State Government Disputes Figures Given By Its Health Panel, Cites These Reasons

by Swarajya Staff - Friday, April 3, 2020 01:31 PM IST
Confusion Over Bengal’s Corona Count: State Government Disputes Figures Given By Its Health Panel, Cites These ReasonsBengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee. 
  • There is confusion over the number of Covid-19 positive cases in West Bengal.

    Mamata Banerjee government has disputed the figure given by the health panel it has appointed to oversee the fight against Covid-19.

What is Bengal’s actual coronavirus-affected count? If a panel of medical experts appointed by the state government itself is to be believed, it is 53. But the government insists it is 34.

Thursday evening saw three members of the panel, including special secretary to the health department, telling the media that the state’s count stood at 53. And that four persons had died in the last 24 hours (since Wednesday), bringing the state’s total covid-19 casualty count to 7.

But a couple of hours later, state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha told the media that the state’s count of active covid-19 positive cases was actually 34. He proceeded with some deft calculations to arrive at the figure of 34.

Of the 53 cases that the panel of experts gave out, three had already recovered and had gone home. So the figure goes down to 50 active cases, said Sinha. Of the 50, nine tested negative in the second confirmatory tests and so the figure goes down further to 41, he added.

The state government, he said, is yet to accept that four deaths since Wednesday were due to the virus. “They had been admitted to hospitals with co-morbid ailments like heart and kidney problems and were later found to be Covid-19 positive,” reasoned Sinha.

Elsewhere in the country, however, such deaths are added to the corona casualty count since the deadly virus compounds co-morbidities and often causes deaths among patients of diabetes, heart  and kidney diseases and other serious ailments.

But since the Bengal government disputes those four deaths, the figure of corona cases goes down to 37. Sinha then removed the three who had died earlier (last week and early this week), and whose deaths the state had acknowledged were caused by the virus, from the 37 and arrived at the figure of 34 ‘active cases’.

This countrywide Covid-19 tracker that is relied on by everyone gives the Bengal’s ‘confirmed’ corona cases as 53, with 44 ‘active cases’, three ‘recovered’ and six deceased.

What’s also very intriguing is that despite many states reporting high incidence of Covid-19 infection among those who attended the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at the Banglewali Masjid in Delhi’s Nizamuddin, Bengal has not reported a single case among them.

A total of 225 Muslims who participated in the congregation and those who came into contact with these returnees are lodged at an exclusive quarantine center for them at New Town in Kolkata’s outskirts.

The state government only said Thursday that two of the people lodged at this quarantine facility--a ten storied building that has been reserved only for the Nizamuddin returnees and Muslims who came in contact with them--were shifted to the state-run Infectious Diseases Hospital (IDH) at Beliaghata and the MR Bangur Hospital “after they showed symptoms of (covid-19) infection”.

What’s more, despite 225 people being quarantined at the new facility at New Town, the collection of swab samples actually dipped in Bengal. While 116 samples were collected and sent for testing Wednesday, Thursday saw a collection of only 104 samples.

This has given rise to apprehensions that not all the 225 quarantined in New Town, or the other Nizamuddin returnees and their contacts quarantined across the state, are being tested.

In other states, a large percentage of the Nizamuddin-returnees have tested covid-19 positive. Assam health minister Himanta Biswa Sarma attributed the high rate of infection among them to their practice of eating from the same plates and living in cramped quarters under unhygienic conditions.

BJP national secretary Rahul Sinha termed Bengal’s attempt to fudge corona-affected figures and hide the death toll as “shameful”. He charged the Mamata Banerjee government with playing politics over unfortunate deaths.

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