https://www.ndtv.com/india-news/coronav ... -topscrollCoronavirus: Bengal Admits 57 COVID-19 Patients Died, But Says 39 From Co-Morbidities
Kolkata: For the first time, Bengal has officially linked 57 deaths to coronavirus. The state government today revealed that according to its death audit committee, 57 COVID-19 patients had died, but asserted that 39 of these were due to co-morbidities.
Only 18 of the deaths were because of COVID-19, Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha told the media. "Balance 39 deaths were due to comorbidities and COVID-19 was incidental," Mr Sinha said.
The revelation comes on a day the central inter-ministerial team asked for details on the death audit committee and raised questions over Bengal's coronavirus figures.
The central team wanted to know if the committee, set up to certify deaths due to COVID-19, was recommended by the central government's Indian Council of Medical Research.
In a letter to the Chief Secretary earlier today, the central team's head Apurva Chandra asked for records of all COVID-19 cases in which the death was attributed to some other cause by the committee.
Mr Chandra had also questioned the time taken by the committee to take such decisions and "whether such a committee to ascertain cause of death exists for any other disease" in Bengal.
He also referred to the Bengal Principal Secretary, Health, in his presentation yesterday, saying "if a COVID patient dies in a road accident, he cannot be said to have died of COVID".
"The IMCT did not find the reasoning convincing as there is no comparison between a road death and a death in a hospital due to a disease," Mr Chandra wrote to the Chief Secretary.
He said the team wanted to interact with the committee to understand its methodology.
Questions have been raised about the audit committee by Governor Jagdeep Dhankar and opposition parties in Bengal as well. Several groups of doctors have also wondered the rationale behind setting it up.
Today's disclosure may come as fresh embarrassment for the state government on a day the Governor dedicated a long letter accusing Mamata Banerjee of "monumental failure" and mismanagement of the COVID-19 crisis.
The controversy over the audit committee started after an April 2 press meet in which an expert committee announced that the total number of deaths on that day stood at seven, four in the previous 24 hours.
Within an hour, the Chief Secretary called another press meet in which he said the expert committee figure was "an error" and the actual figure was still at three. An audit committee to confirm the cause of death was then set up.
The expert committee has never addressed another press conference since, nor has the audit committee.