- Number of deaths in Bengal changed from 7 to 3 last week
- BJP alleged figures changed by Mamata Banerjee government
- "This is not time for petty politics," Ms Banerjee said
The West Bengal government's coronavirus figures drew attention last week, when the number of deaths was scaled down from seven to three; the remaining four deaths were attributed to comorbidities. The figures have triggered a political war, with Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee giving a curt response to BJP IT cell chief Amit Malviya, who had accused her of fudging COVID-19 numbers.
"A political party's IT cell is using fake news to malign West Bengal's health department. Our doctors and health staff are doing their best to fight the disease. This is not the time for petty politics. We never pointed at the lacunas of the central government in dealing with the crisis," she was quoted as saying by news agency PTI as saying.
"They may be more interested in politics by clanging utensils and bursting crackers, but we are not," she added.
Mr Malviya today alleged in a series of tweets that hospital administrations across the state are under pressure from Mamata Banerjee to not report the deaths linked to the virus. He also pointed out that the number of deaths was missing from the state health bulletin.
"Hospital administrations across Bengal are under pressure from Mamata Banerjee, who is also the Health Minister, to underplay Covid-related cases by discouraging tests and thwarting doctors from writing coronavirus as a reason for deaths, despite positive reports, in death certificates," he tweeted.
"What is Mamata Banerjee hiding? No medical bulletin from the Bengal government on 2nd, 3rd and 5th April. Curiously the number of Covid-related deaths missing in the bulletin released on the 4th," he added.
What is Mamata Banerjee hiding?— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) April 6, 2020
No medical bulletin from the Bengal government on 2nd, 3rd and 5th Apr. Curiously number of Covid related deaths missing in the bulletin released on 4th..
Read this along with Mamata admin's diktat on a Committee deciding reason for Covid deaths. pic.twitter.com/meUXzWVNIz
Hospital administrations across Bengal are under pressure from Mamata Banerjee, who is also the Health Minister, to underplay Covid related cases by discouraging tests and thwarting doctors from writing Corona as a reason for deaths, despite +ive reports, in Death Certificates...— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) April 6, 2020
The first reaction on Mr Malviya's tweet had come from Trinamool MP Kakoli Ghosh Dastidar in which she mocked him.
When the CEO of BJP's IT Cell, who also has a PhD in spreading #FakeNews , starts tweeting about authenticity of data, it's like COVID talking about social distancing and accusing you of breaking the lockdown.— Kakoli59 (@kakoli59) April 6, 2020
The fact is: on Thursday, April 2, a health task force set up by the Bengal government itself said at a press meet that four people had died in the previous 24 hours because of Covid-19, and the number of deaths had gone up to seven.
Shortly afterwards the state chief secretary addressed a press meet and said the number of deaths from Covid-19 was still 3. Four others who had died had reportedly tested Covid-19 positive but they had comorbidities and the cause of death was being investigated, he had said.
The central government update puts the number of deaths in Bengal at 3 but there are mismatches of other numbers. For instance, the total of those tested positive. At last count the state said 49, the centre 80. Asked about this, the chief secretary had said on Saturday that the health department would have to explain why there were differences in the figures.