The Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) sent to West Bengal to take stock of the Covid-19 situation has asked for a presentation on the state’s preparedness in tackling the pandemic. It has also demanded cooperation from the state government for visits to affected areas, hospitals, markets and quarantine facilities in the state.
In a letter addressed to Chief Secretary of the state Rajiv Sinha Wednesday, the IMCT has requested a detailed presentation by the health department detailing if the level of testing in the state is adequate, and whether the testing facilities available there are being used in full. The letter also seeks to know the protocol adopted for testing and the level at which conduct of a Covid-19 test is approved.
Centre’s Inter-Ministerial team asks for presentation on state of #COVIDー19 Outbreak and containment from West Bengal. Demands cooperation for being taken to affected areas, hospitals, markets and quarantine facilities. @IndianExpress pic.twitter.com/RJxXkqrBjb
— Deeptiman Tiwary (@DeeptimanTY) April 22, 2020
It has also sought a presentation on the availability of safety equipment like PPE and masks, and of oxygen beds, ICU beds, ventilators etc, and the number of surveillance teams in hotspots and containment zones.
The IMCT said it would also like to visit some of the hospitals, quarantine centres, hotspots, and market places and directly interact with the health professionals and the general public.
Stating it had information that West Bengal was not cooperating with the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams sent to the state for assessment of the situation in Covid-hit districts, the Ministry of Home Affairs wrote to the state government Tuesday, reminding it that the Centre’s orders were binding on the state.
The ruling TMC reacted angrily, saying while states were fighting the coronavirus, the Centre was fighting states. In a late night letter Tuesday, Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha wrote back, “It is not a fact that central teams have not been provided any cooperation by West Bengal govt. In fact, the teams arrived without any prior consultation with us and, therefore, there was neither such opportunity to provide any logistic support not the Team asked for any help.”
Amid the tussle between the Centre and the state, the Trinamool government assured cooperation to the two Inter-Ministerial Central Teams that landed in the state on Monday.
Earlier in the day,Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee alleged that faulty testing kits were dispatched to the state. Addressing a press conference, Banerjee said canards were being spread that the state was not conducting adequate testing. “This is absolutely false. Faulty kits were sent to Bengal which have now been withdrawn. We didn’t even get adequate testing kits,” she said.
Citing frequent lockdown violations in certain states, the Home Ministry had on Sunday said teams would be sent to the Opposition-ruled states of West Bengal, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, besides Madhya Pradesh. While the North Bengal team could not move out the entire day on Tuesday, the team in Kolkata stepped out in the morning only to be told by police to make a U-turn.
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