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Coronavirus: Cases, casualties rise, Bengal govt. drags its feet on updating numbers

Railway Police personnel donate blood at Netaji Indoor Stadium during a blood donation camp in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata.

Railway Police personnel donate blood at Netaji Indoor Stadium during a blood donation camp in wake of the coronavirus pandemic, in Kolkata.   | Photo Credit: PTI

While the number of cases of Coronavirus infection and casualties continued to rise in West Bengal, the State government seems to be dragging its feet on updating numbers of the casualties. On April 2, the first time since the outbreak, the State did not release an official bulletin on the website of the State Health department, a practice it started from the first week of February.

On April 1 and 2, doctors of the COVID-19 task force as well officials in charge of hospitals where patients were admitted have agreed that the four persons who died in the past 48 hours had tested positive for Coronavirus but the State is yet to include these deaths in the official count of causalities.

Interactive map of confirmed coronavirus cases in India

‘Comorbid conditions’

On Thursday, doctors of the force set up by West Bengal government told journalists at the Secretariat that in the past 24 hours there was confirmation of the death of four persons due to viral infection taking the number of deceased to seven. Dhiman Ganguly, a pulmonologist and member of the special team, who spoke to media persons, however, added that two of those who died were suffering from comorbid conditions such as chronic renal failure and hypertension.

Within hours of doctors confirming that the death toll has increased to seven, Chief Secretary of the State Rajiva Sinha refuted these figures. He said that the confirmed deaths remained at three and in case of four others the State was yet to confirm.

“It is yet to be established that these (four) deaths have occurred because of COVID-19. What we have seen is that they were suffering from comorbidities,” Mr. Sinha said.

Data | The Nizamuddin cluster and the coronavirus spread

The government highlights active cases instead of total infections.

The Chief Secretary also said that the number of cases in the State, which according to task force doctors stands at 53, should be 34. Dr. Ganguly, earlier in the day, said that with 16 more infected in the past 24 hours the number of patients has increased to 53 in the State. This is the highest rise in the number of cases in the State so far since the outbreak of the infection.

“Of these 53 cases, three have tested negative, so 50. Now of these 50, nine have tested negative in the second test, so 41. Plus, seven have died which is attributed to Corona that has not been established. So active cases in this State is 34 at present,” the Chief secretary said putting the number of active cases at 34.

A similar situation emerged on Wednesday when the doctors as well as health officials confirmed three more deaths taking the count to casualties due to the viral infection to six. But after the Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee remarked that these three were suffering from other ailments, the official bulletin of the Health Department said that the three deceased had “reportedly tested positive” to Coronavirus which was “subject to confirmation”.

Three persons had passed away between Tuesday evening and Wednesday evening and the official bulletin of the State Health Department on Wednesday night said that the deceased had reportedly “tested positive” of Coronavirus which was “subject to confirmation”. One death at a private health facility was reported late on Wednesday. The person had tested positive for the viral infection.

Meanwhile, doctors of the expert committee informed journalists that in the past 24 hours, 104 samples were collected for testing and the cumulative number of samples tested by the State government so far was 767.

“In the past 24 hours, 137 people have been kept under hospital surveillance. The total number of people who have been hospitalised so far in the State stands at 1,014. The number of those still in hospital is 280,” Dr. Ganguly added.

About 58,199 people, which includes a large number of those who returned from foreign countries and other States, have been enlisted for surveillance.

The response of the State on sharing the figures related to death and infections has triggered political controversy. The leadership of both the Bharatiya Janata Party and the Communist Party of India (Marxist) have accused the Trinamool Congress government of suppressing numbers related to the outbreak.

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Printable version | Aug 9, 2020 6:29:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/coronavirus-cases-casualties-rise-bengal-govt-drags-its-feet-on-updating-numbers/article31244946.ece

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