West Bengal government has come under the scanner of the Centre for not adhering to the protocol for reporting coronavirus fatalities.
An Inter-Ministerial Central Team (IMCT) has written to the West Bengal Chief Secretary to explain the methodology used by a committee of five doctors appointed by the state to ascertain whether the deaths being reported are due to coronavirus. The questions by the IMCT come at a time when suspicions have been raised over the coronavirus data coming from West Bengal. The Mamata Banerjee government has said that only the state-appointed committee will decide if a patient has died from COVID-19. West Bengal has so far reported 514 cases and 15 deaths due to COVID-19.
The committee has also asked whether the methodology adopted by the state panel is in line with what has been laid down by the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR), the apex body in the country for the formulation, coordination and promotion of biomedical research.
The IMCT in its letter has sought an interaction with the committee of doctors to understand their methodology and whether such a committee to ascertain cause of death exists for any other disease in the state. The team further asked about the time taken by the committee to reach a conclusion whether a patient died of the virus.
The development comes amidst an ongoing war of words between the Trinamool Congress government and the Centre over the handling of the coronavirus situation in the eastern state.
Earlier this month, the West Bengal government set up a committee of five doctors to decide the actual cause of death. The move has sparked suspicions that West Bengal, unlike other states, is reluctant to attribute the deaths of coronavirus patients with pre-existing conditions.
The government order said that doctors signing death certificates must fill a form which will then be scrutinised by a committee of five doctors. Besides, they are also required to attach test reports, including for scrub typhus, dengue, malaria and others.
The state government has come under the scanner of the MHA for not adhering to the protocol for reporting coronavirus fatalities. The BJP has accused it of suppressing information about the virus, a charge refuted by the Mamata government.