NEWS
01/05/2020 1:31 PM IST | Updated 01/05/2020 1:43 PM IST

105 Or 33? Confusion Continues On West Bengal's Coronavirus Deaths

Meanwhile, a TMC MP's father who has Covid-19 was reportedly sent home despite not testing negative in two consequent tests.

DIBYANGSHU SARKAR via Getty Images
A slum dweller in Kolkata cleans his hands with sanitizer before collecting relief material on April 30, 2020.

While the West Bengal government said on Thursday that the state has now reported 33 deaths because of Covid-19, confusion prevailed on what the actual number was. 

The government also said that 37 fresh cases of Covid-19 had been detected in the state. 

The confusion on the death toll has arisen as the Mamata Banerjee government is not counting the deaths of people with co-morbidities as coronavirus deaths. 

105 deaths in West Bengal?

State chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said on Thursday that 105 patients who had been diagnosed with Covid-19 in the state had died. But the state put the official number of deaths at 33, because the rest of the patients reportedly had co-morbidities. 

If these are also counted as Covid-19 deaths, it puts West Bengal just behind Maharashtra, Madhya Pradesh and Gujarat in terms of the number of deaths in India due to the pandemic. 

An expert committee of five members formed by the state found that 105 patients diagnosed with the coronavirus have died and submitted its report. 

PTI quoted Sinha as saying, “The expert committee has examined altogether 105 cases. Of that, 33 were found to have died due to COVID-19 infection. And the rest 72 deaths were attributed to co- morbidities, where COVID-19 was incidental. The committee submitted its report today and these figures are not of single day.” 

The continued confusion over the number of deaths in West Bengal comes at a time when the state has been criticised of mishandling the pandemic situation. 

There is a glaring problem with the official death toll, because according to most international guidelines, even the deaths of those with co-morbidities are counted as coronavirus deaths. 

Speaking about the audit committee, the bureaucrat said that the state health department would soon come out with an advisory, based on the observations of the panel.

“Please note that this committee was not auditing the death certificates. It was only auditing death cases. The move was essential to understand the treatment protocol of COVID-19 and learn the character of the disease,” he said.

The audit committee, Sinha said, has found that several death certificates issued for patients of COVID-19 did not follow the prescribed format set by WHO and the ICMR.

“The death certificates should ideally include the immediate cause of death, antecedent cause of death and underlying cause of death. The time interval of the presumed onset of condition and the death should also be mentioned in the case history.

“The committee, following its research, said medical record-keeping requires a lot of improvement and the health department will soon come out with an advisory,” Sinha said.

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TMC MP’s father sent home before testing negative

The father of a TMC MP was reportedly sent home from a private hospital and will likely be placed under home quarantine, despite not testing negative for Covid-19 in two consequent tests. 

Anandabazar Patrika quoted unnamed sources as saying that the patient had not tested negative. 

The report quoted other sources as saying that the MP’s father would be the first person to be treated at home with the help of a caregiver as they had the resources to do so. 

This is likely a system that the state will follow in the future. 

A doctor was quoted by the report as saying that while the under-privileged may not have the space or resources to isolated a Covid-19 patient at home, it was certainly possible for an MPs father. 

(With PTI inputs)