Centre says Bengal not testing enough, mismanaging Covid-19 cases

Centre says Bengal not testing enough, mismanaging Covid-19 cases
As a row between West Bengal and the Centre over the state’s efforts to control the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) escalates, officials of the Union government said on Friday that the region was failing to conduct adequate tests and grappling with confusion and mismanagement over identifying hot spots and containing them.
The Centre and the state government, led by chief minister Mamata Banerjee, have exchanged allegations over the criteria for reporting deaths from the infection, and while While Bengal says the Centre is trying to politicise a public health crisis, the Union government maintains that state officials are ignoring repeated warnings to step up fight against the disease.
A Union government official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the state was not even conducting 250 tests daily, as mandated by the Centre for Covid-19 hotspots, while neighbouring Odisha was testing between 500 to 1,000 people every day.
“The state has 540 identified containment zones and 10 districts are falling in the red zone. Instead of sharpening focus on these zones, the West Bengal administration is quibbling over the number of containment areas alleging that the Centre is overestimating such areas,” another senior Union official said, asking not to be named.
The Centre holds daily review meetings with different states on their Covid-19 preparedness. On Thursday, during the meeting with West Bengal, only one state official was absent, according to a person present at the meeting.
As district magistrates of the red zones did not attend the meeting, Union health minister Harsh Vardhan inquired if they would be joining at all, the person added on condition of anonymity. The lone West Bengal representative, Saumitra Mohan, MD of the National Health Mission, said he wasn’t immediately able to contact the DMs.
Even as the Centre has started running special trains to send back stranded migrant workers to their states, the West Bengal government has not yet put in place any standard operating procedures (SOP) for the exercise, another official said. The issue was raised again on Thursday and Mohan was asked to convey the urgency for SOP to senior officials in the state.
The Centre also pointed out that a proper door-to-door scrutiny in the containment zones was not happening in the state. There were also reports of lax rules in sealing containment zones in many areas, especially in the congested areas of north Kolkata.
“We have told them that it is of vital importance to conduct tests for Surveillance for Severe Acute Respiratory Infections (SARI)/Influenza Like Illness (ILI), which should be intensified in unaffected districts and districts that have not reported cases for the last 14 days,” said a senior official.
Leaders of the ruling Trinamool Congress in the state have argued that the Centre failed to send adequate numbers of Covid-19 testing kits, which resulted in low level of testing. The Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR) maintains that there is no problem of testing kits’ supply to the state.
An interministerial central team (IMCT), which visited West Bengal to assess the Covid-19 situation recently, said there were discrepancies in reporting of cases in the state. In its final status report submitted to the West Bengal government, IMCT also raised questions on the state government’s claim that it surveyed five million people.
A senior Union official said that due to the lack of cooperation from the state, the central team was forced to use Google Maps to find their way to hospitals or other spots for surveillance.
Despite repeated requests for a statement, Mohan did not offer any comment.
Trinamool’s general secretary Partha Chatterjee, however, has accused the Centre of politicising issues and warned the Centre against mixing politics with administration at a critical juncture in the public health crisis.

https://www.hindustantimes.com
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As a row between West Bengal and the Centre over the state’s efforts to control the coronavirus disease (Covid-19) escalates, officials of the Union government said on Friday that the region was failing to conduct adequate tests and grappling with confusion and mismanagement

Read latest post filed under Bengal, Coronavirus, National - International, North Bengal

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