New Delhi: A group of non-resident medical professionals, who identified themselves as Bengali doctors, wrote an open letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee raising concerns that there has been “gross under-testing” and “misreporting of data” of at least 19 people who died of COVID-19. Also Read - Unlock 1, Day 7 LIVE: Syllabus Should be Reduced By 30 Per Cent Once Schools Re-open, Sisodia Writes to Centre
The letter, dated Wednesday, sought a review of the pandemic situation, saying that while they were concerned about the overall inadequate testing in the country, the conditions in West Bengal were particularly grave. Also Read - Coronavirus in India: These 7 Cities Contributing 60 Per Cent of Overall Cases | Check List
“In the last week and a half, we have come across or watched with growing concerns, reports on the COVID-19 situation in West Bengal. There are two specific issues that are most disturbing to us: 1) the gross under-testing in West Bengal, and 2) the misreporting of data on the cause of death in COVID-19 patients,” the letter pointed out, adding that these patients had been born, raised and educated in Bengal and also had their families in the state. Also Read - Coronavirus: With 1,458 New Cases, Tamil Nadu Second State After Maharashtra to Breach 30,000-Mark
“The number of truly affected cases depends on the extent of testing, the accuracy of the test results and, in particular, the frequency and scale of testing of asymptomatic cases who may have been exposed,” the letter stated.
The doctors cited a report by the Reuters which mentioned that West Bengal had conducted only 33.7 tests per million as opposed to the national average of 156.9 per million.
“The gross underestimation in the number of truly affected cases may have potentially dangerous consequences, specifically in 1) not being prepared with adequate healthcare capacity to handle the pandemic burden in the state, and 2) failing to arrest the spread of the infection by asymptomatic cases who may be spreading unknowingly,” it added.
As of Wednesday evening, Bengal has conducted only about 7,034 tests for COVID-19 as compared to 41,512 samples in Andhra Pradesh or 55,759 in Rajasthan.
On the other hand, CM Banerjee has been at loggerheads with the central government over the continuous scrutiny into West Bengal’s preparedness on coronavirus situation. A war of words had broke out between the state and the Union government over the arrival of two central teams that was deemed targeted and unnecessary by the CM.
“Canards are being spread every day that only a few are getting tested in Bengal for COVID-19. This is absolutely false. Faulty kits were sent to Bengal which have now been withdrawn. We didn’t even get adequate testing kits,” she told a press conference earlier in the day.