After it discontinued uploading ward-wise data for the last five days, the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation (BMC) on Friday issued a clarification explaining its decision to do so.
However, the civic body has also assured that it will resolve the anomalies that have come to light and resume sending ward-wise data.
During this course, many citizens and social activists even accused BMC of playing down and fudging the number of positive COVID-19 cases in the city.
Clarifying its stand, the statement issued by the BMC stated: "We believe, perfect should not be the enemy of the good, especially when it comes to ward level views, we understand that there are sensitivities involved. Our only pursuit has been to keep people informed, all along, However, whatever may be the figures at ward level, high or low, increasing or reducing, everyone should adopt the best practices."
The BMC is being out of sync with the state health department over data on Covid-19 infections in the city but has claimed that this is due to 851 duplications of names in the count. The discrepancy has been evident since the day the state and city agencies started releasing Covid-19 data.
Considering this, the state health department has decided to collect data from ICMR’s website.
As per officials from the state health department, numbers are reported only after coordinating with municipal corporations and receiving ground-level confirmation from districts. “We collect daily information from respective districts, municipal authorities, and private laboratories by 2 pm, as we have to process the data. Cases detected after 2 pm are added to the tally the next day. There were some discrepancies,” said an official from the state health department.
Civic officials have attributed the discrepancy to the system adopted by private laboratories which have been permitted to conduct tests on suspected Covid-19 patients. Private laboratories report their numbers to the India Council of Medical Research (ICMR) following which the BMC adds them to its tally.
Meanwhile, the state government receives the private lab data from ICMR but also gets BMC’s count. This often leads to duplication while collating the data, said a senior civic official.
BMC's clarification states that the government of India has recently mandated that only national level ICMR line list be referred and used for any reporting.
"The data uploaded by ICMR has had two issues which are being resolved, this includes Duplication of names and "out of Mumbai" people getting flagged off as "In Mumbai"," the clarification stated.
A civic official added, "The discrepancy between the health ministry and BMC data can be resolved only by following a uniform data capturing method. Now we have decided to follow data on ICMR’s website as a base and after processing. After minimising duplication we will declare the ward-wise data on a daily basis."