Bengal govt finds ‘missing Covid-19 data’ after IMCT letter questions mismatch

A major controversy had erupted after state health secretary Vivek Kumar’s letter to union health secretary Preeti Sudan put the total number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the state at 931 as of April 30, whereas the state administration’s data shared with journalists till that day added up to 816.
A health worker checks the body temperature of a student after he arrived by bus from other states to West Bengal during the nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.(AFP PHOTO.)
A health worker checks the body temperature of a student after he arrived by bus from other states to West Bengal during the nationwide lockdown as a preventive measure against the Covid-19 pandemic.(AFP PHOTO.)
Updated on May 05, 2020 12:44 AM IST
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Hindustan Times, Kolkata | ByJoydeep Thakur and Snigdhendu Bhattacharya | Edited by Sohini Sarkar

On a day the inter-ministerial central team sent a letter to the state government questioning the mismatch in its data related to Covid-19, the Mamata Banerjee-led administration claimed to have found all ‘missing data’, while admitting that there were gaps in data that was being released by the government every day.

“There was an issue of missing data which is why there were some gaps. All missing data have been retrieved. Now we are in a position to share all this data every day,” Rajiva Sinha, chief secretary of West Bengal said on Monday.

A major controversy had erupted after state health secretary Vivek Kumar’s letter to union health secretary Preeti Sudan put the total number of people testing positive for Covid-19 in the state at 931 as of April 30, whereas the state administration’s data shared with journalists till that day added up to 816.

However, the data shared by the state on Monday supports neither figure. The government said that the total number of patients testing positive stood at 1,259 on Monday, with 229 new cases between May 1 and May 4, which put the figure as of April 30 at 1,030.

“There were gaps in data which was triggering confusion. We found that the data reporting structure was highly complicated and some data was not being registered at all. It was not deliberate. We have improved. We searched all data over the weekend and compiled everything so that there is no missing data,” Sinha added.

As a result, while the state government’s data so long showed fewer numbers of cases than in the data shared by the union health ministry, Bengal’s Monday’s data stood well above what has been shared by the union health ministry.

The government on Monday said of the total 1,259 Covid-19 cases, 908 were active cases, 218 people had recovered and been discharged from hospitals, 61 people died of Covid-19 and another 72 died of ‘co-morbidity’.

“Bengal is turning out to be India’s Covid-19 hub. The state government’s mismanagement led to this situation. Without IMCT’s intervention, we would have never known the real picture regarding the number of deaths and persons infected,” BJP state unit president Dilip Ghosh alleged on Monday.

The IMCT for south Bengal, before leaving the state for Delhi, sent a letter to the chief secretary on Monday accusing the state of fudging Covid-19 related data and suppressing facts. The team, which was in Bengal since April 20, will submit its report to the ministry of home affairs soon.

The number of containment zones in the state has shot up from 444 on April 30 to 516 on May 4. Kolkata, with 318 such areas, has the highest number of containment zones.

Meanwhile, the bulletin published by the state on Monday showed that only four districts have been tagged as Red Zones in Bengal. On April 30, the union health ministry had released a list which said that Bengal has ten Red Zones.

The state’s ruling party Trinamool Congress (TMC) targeted BJP for politicizing an administrative issue. On social media, Mamata Banerjee’s nephew and TMC youth wing chief Abhishek Banerjee wrote, “In their desperation to score cheap political points, those who are misrepresenting facts and maligning Bengal even daring to call Bengal - ‘Wuhan of India’ should look at facts: % +ve per million: 14, rank 16th, Total Cases: 1259, rank 9th, Active cases: 908, rank 10th.”

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Sunday, December 05, 2021