18 Covid deaths in Bengal, 39 more died due to ‘co-morbidities’: Govt

18 Covid deaths in Bengal, 39 more died due to ‘co-morbidities
Kolkata: Eighteen of the 57 deaths audited so far by a state health experts’ panel were found to be “directly Covid deaths”, the Bengal government said on Friday. The other 39 were found to be caused by “severe co-morbidities”, with Covid-19 emerging as “an incidental finding”.
State chief secretary Rajiva Sinha gave a detailed break-up of the deaths in Bengal a few hours after a central government team sought clarifications from the state on whether the expert committee it had set up to audit death figures was in line with Indian Council of Medical Research guidelines.
The central team, led by additional secretary Apurva Chandra, also sought case records of all Covid-19 patients who had died and whose deaths were attributed to other diseases (or “co-morbidities”) by the state panel. It sought an interaction with the panel to understand the methodology of the audit and wanted to know whether the government had such committees for other diseases as well.
Sinha’s response mentioned when the expert committee was set up and gave an overview of its findings. The panel was set up on April 3, he said, more than a fortnight after the first Covid-19 case was reported in Bengal on March 18. “The committee has stated that 18 of the 57 deaths are directly Covid deaths. The remaining 39 were because of severe co-morbid conditions and Covid-19 was an incidental finding,” he said. Senior physician Sukumar Mukherjee had told a press meet last week that the state government was following all ICMR protocols in the death audit.
The two teams sent by the Centre visited Dumurjala Stadium (now a quarantine facility in Howrah) and the North Bengal Medical College and Hospital in Siliguri on Friday a day after visiting MR Bangur Hospital (the state’s largest designated Covid facility) and Rajarhat’s Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute.
Sinha chose note to give a point-to-point response to all the central team’s observations. “They have been writing to us from time to time. I have sent the letters to Swasthya Bhavan. We have cooperated with them,” he said.
They have not come here as inspectors or auditors and we do not have to pass any examination. We are not here to prove anything. The teams are free to go anywhere they want and we are ready to take positive suggestions. We are not asking them to leave. Neither have we asked them to stay,” Sinha said.
Chandra pointed out there was a large number of patients at MR Bangur waiting for test reports for more than five days. “Why are the results taking such a long time?” he asked in his letter. The team also suggested ramping up the tests to between 2,500 and 5,000 a day. The state conducted 543 on Friday.
Chandra’s letter also mentioned the “chaotic” patient admission procedure at MR Bangur, specifying there was “no social distancing in the waiting area” and a dozen ventilators for 354 “serious patients”.
The state chief secretary did not directly refer to the central team’s questionnaire but quoted a letter from the union health secretary, which said: “It is important that some sort of a death audit is there. There is a need to institutionalise reporting of Covid deaths.” The protocol for declaring deaths was the same in Bengal as it was in other states, Sinha added.
The central team also took note of a video clip doing the rounds on social media that showed bodies lying in Covid wards and came to know from health workers that they might be lying there because doctors had to wait for four hours before issuing the death certificate; the team felt the bodies could be shifted to a mortuary before doctors issued the certificate. 
 
https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com

Eighteen of the 57 deaths audited so far by a state health experts’ panel were found to be “directly Covid deaths”, the Bengal government said on Friday. The other 39 were found to be caused by “severe co-morbidities”, with Covid-19 emerging as “an incidental finding”.

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