After visiting a Covid-19 designated hospital in Kolkata and a quarantine centre in Rajarhat area, the Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) sent a letter to Chief Secretary Rajiv Sinha with a strong observation about the treatment system for Covid-19 patients and sought details of the death audit committee constituted by the state to announce the death toll.
The Mamata Banerjee-led West Bengal government and the Centre have been engaged in a war of words over the arrival of two inter-ministerial central teams in the state to assess the preparedness in tackling the coronavirus outbreak.
The central team head and a senior bureaucrat in the Ministry of Defence Apurba Chandra has written two letters to the Chief Secretary, out of of which one questioned the death audit committee. The letter said, “The Principal Secretary (Health) in his presentation on April 23 gave some reasons for establishment of the committee of Doctors and also mentioned that if a covid patient dies in a road accident, he can not be said had died of COVID. The IMCT did not find the reasoning convincing as there is no comparison between a road death and a death in a hospital due to disease.” The team also sought information about the doctor’s committee and the order regarding the constitution of the committee.
The other letter gave details of IMCT’s observation after visiting M R Bangur hospital in Kolkata and CNCI centre in Rajarhat. The observation mentioned that many of the Covid-19 suspect patients admitted at these centres have been there for more than a week. However, their test results were yet to come.
The letter read, “There are only 12 ventilator beds available at Bangur hospital caters to 354 Covid-19 patients. When asked, the IMCT was informed in case a patient requires ventilation support and ventilator is not available, the patient is transferred to some other facilities. Records in this regard may be made available.”
The letter further said, “There have been report in social media that dead bodies were lying on beds in a ward. On inquiry, it was informed that, dead bodies were lying on bed in a ward as it takes at least four hours to issue a death certificate, after which the bodies are shifted to the mortuary. It is not clear why a body should be lying in a ward with full view of other patients and not shifted to the mortuary even while awaiting death certificate. Records may be furnished for how much time it takes to issue a death certificate and shift a body to the mortuary.”
The letter said the Health Department has informed them that the rate of tests increased during the last four days from 400 per day to 900 per day. “The IMCT was informed that the number of survey teams have been constituted for screening of individuals. In each districts the number of individuals screened range from 1.25 to 2 lakhs per day. Information may be provided on how many of the screened individuals are actually tested for COVID and found positive,” the letter said.
Meanwhile, as many as 1,684 positive cases of Covid-19 have been reported in India in the last 24 hours, taking the total number of confirmed cases to 23,077 on Friday. The death toll stood at 718. As many as 17,610 Covid-19 cases are active while at least 4,748 people have been cured and discharged so far. As for Bengal, the number of cases has risen to 514.