West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee said here on Friday that haphazard use of rapid test devices in some private facilities was resulting in erroneous estimates of the dengue outbreak in the State.

A report of the Health department said five persons have died from the disease so far this year, and 944 cases detected, a day after a senior leader of the Communist Party of India (Marxist) had said that according to reports reaching the Left Front, at least 28 had died.

Referring to remarks by a team from the National Vector Borne Disease Control Programme (NVBDCP) that is in the city, Ms. Banerjee said that one of its conclusions was the “haphazard use of the rapid test in the private sector.” This is leading to inaccuracies while determining the extent of the dengue outbreak, she added.

Claiming that the situation had improved, Ms. Banerjee, who is also the Health Minister, said that the NVBDCP team had pointed out the non-availability of Elisa kits in several diagnostic centres. “The kits have started arriving, and the tests can be conducted after 48 hours,” she said. Ms. Banerjee came down strongly on the Left Front-controlled Howrah Municipal Corporation, which was flouting government guidelines for conducting dengue tests, and also charging visitors a fee for the tests.

“This is a comment from the Central team, and the practice should be stopped immediately,” she said.

Later in the day, the tests were stopped in the polyclinic concerned, following instructions from the State government.

“I am also concerned regarding the bad open drainage network in Howrah. The Howrah Municipal Corporation is under the control of the CPI(M). I don’t want to get into any politics, but if it [the civic body] cannot provide amenities like safe drinking water, garbage-free roads and better drainage system, we [the government] cannot be blamed,” Ms. Banerjee said. “I am concerned regarding the outbreak of dengue, malaria in such a situation. If the situation is allowed to continue, it could result in an epidemic. The CPI(M) asks us to take steps, but what is it doing?” she asked.