Prema Rajaram


The Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) sent by the Union Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has conveyed its preliminary findings to West Bengal chief cecretary Rajiva Sinha in a letter on Monday. The letter mentions the mortality rate due to Covid-19 is 12.8%, which is by far the highest in the country and shows weak surveillance and low testing.

The letter is written by Apurba Chandra, who is heading one of the two IMCTs. While Chandra mentions non-cooperation from the West Bengal government’s side as compared to other state governments where IMCTs were sent, his team’s findings also raises certain discrepancies.

The letter questions the actual figures of Covid-19 cases and deaths reflected by the state government in its daily health bulletins, compared to the figures given to the Centre. “The 30.4.2020 bulletin showed active Covid cases as 572, discharged after treatment 139 and expired due to Covid 33, making a total of 744. In a communication to the union health secretary from the prinicipal secretary (health) on the same day, the total number of cases was indicated to be 931 leading to a discrepancy of 187 cases,” reads the letter.

“In addition, it was admitted on 30.4.2020, 72 Covid patients have expired but classified as death due to comorbidities. The number does not seem to find reflection in the figure of 744. The state needs to be transparent and consistent in reporting the figures and not downplaying the spread of the virus.”

The letter adds, “The IMCT also says there was no reflection of daily surveillance in the four districts that the IMCT had visited for spot surveillance.”

Trinamool Congress (TMC) leader Derek Obrien spoke about one team sent by the health department from the Centre, saying things are under control. “Bengal, Telengana, Tamil Nadu one team has been sent. This confirms the situation in Bengal is going well, as we took precautions in March. Unfortunately the ruling party’s fake factories were spreading misinformation. Bengal working with the Kerala model to handle Covid-19, we took precautionary measures,” said Derek Obrien.

The TMC however chose not to respond to West Bengal governor Jagdeep Dhankhar’s letter to CM Mamata Banerjee where he lashes out at the handling of the Covid-19 crises. The governor and Mamata have been at loggerheads for weeks, with letters being exchanged back and forth, apart from allegations by the governor on social media.

BJP neta flouts social distancing protocol, held

West Bengal police on Monday arrested BJP’s Jalpaiguri president for flouting social distancing norms during the lockdown. What stood apart was cops did not follow the social distancing protocol themselves in making the arrest. Police arrested Bapi Goswami and two party members when they were on their way to meet the dist­rict magistrate with a list of grievances of the people during lock­down. Ironically, when Bapi Goswami was taken into police custody, the cops did not follow social distancing protocol. Three people were sitting next to each other without any distance between them. The BJP leader was first stopped by the Inspector of Circle, Jalpaiguri and then forced into a vehicle. Bapi Goswami was taken into police custody and taken to Jalpaiguri Sadar police station.

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