BH CORRESPONDENT, Kolkata: The West Bengal government has officially linked 57 deaths to coronavirus. The state government on Friday revealed that according to its death audit committee, 57 COVID-19 patients had died, but clarified that 39 of these were due to “co-morbidities”, or complications arising out of coronavirus infections.
Only 18 of the deaths were because of COVID-19, West Bengal chief secretary Rajiva Sinha told the media. “Balance 39 deaths were due to comorbidities and COVID-19 was incidental,” 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 on Friday, 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.
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 Principal Secretary, Health, in his presentation on Thursday saying “if a COVID patient dies in a road accident, he cannot be said to have died of COVID”.
“The central team 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,” Chandra wrote to the Chief Secretary.
Questions have been raised about the audit committee by Governor Jagdeep Dhankhar and opposition parties as well. Several groups of doctors have also wondered the rationale behind setting it up.