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Low testing, high death rate, lack of tracking: Central team flags West Bengal

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New Delhi, May 05: The Inter-Ministerial Central Team that visited West Bengal has said that the state has the highest mortality rate among coronavirus patients in the country. It said that at 12.8 per cent the mortality rate is the highest, while also accusing the state of low testing, discrepancies and weak surveillance.

Low testing, high death rate, lack of tracking: Central team flags West Bengal

The team completed its two-week tour of West Bengal and sent a letter to the Chief Secretary of the state, Rajiva Sinha. The letter was titled 'Final Observations of the IMCT."

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The team while praising the increase in daily testing in Bengal from 400 to 2,100 also flagged the non-cooperation by the state bureaucracy. It urged the state to take this exercise in the right spirit.

"The IMCT notes that the state government has on 30.04.2020 made a pronouncement that henceforth all death of COVID patients would be indicated in the daily statistics and the death certificate would be issued by hospitals with the Committee of Doctors examining random samples. This is a big step toward transparency. At the same time, it raises the total death count of COVID patients in the state to 105 on 30.04.2020. For a total reported number of 816 Covid-19 patients, the mortality rate of 12.8 per cent is by far the highest in the country," Ministry of Defence Additional Secretary Apurva Chandra said.

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He also said that this extremely high mortality rate is a clear indication of low testing and weak surveillance and tracking.

The state was also accused of non-cooperation. The team was not given access to officials, barring the Principal Secretary, Health. The state has taken an antagonistic view and has not supported the IMCT in performing its duties. This contradicts with the experience of the IMCT in other states.

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The Centre, it may be recalled had constituted 10 such teams to tough districts in West Bengal, Rajasthan, Maharashtra, Telangana, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu and Madhya Pradesh.

The Centre said that this was done because there were routine violations of the lockdown guidelines in these states. The team made an on the spot assessment of the situation and suggested measures.

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