The West Bengal government on Monday admitted that there was a problem in collating data on the coronavirus cases and deaths in the state, amid allegations that the true extent of the spread of the infection had not been revealed, The Telegraph reported. This came on the same day when the Centre’s inter-ministerial team, deployed to assess the situation in a few districts of West Bengal, urged the Mamata Banerjee government to be “transparent and consistent” in reporting figures pertaining to the pandemic.
Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha gave an explanation on how the state government has “retrieved missing data” and that there were certain problems in obtaining “real time data”.
“In terms of reporting, you have seen our total figures were not given over the past three days,” Sinha told reporters. “The main reason for it was that we started seeing...that one kind of figures [were] being cited somewhere, another kind being cited elsewhere, a different kind in the media. But we were not being able to understand why the gap existed.”
Sinha added that the data gap in reporting figures was not deliberate. “When it began, the arrangement we had made, it was then thought of as foolproof,” he added. “But all arrangements should be dynamic, to be improved on the basis of what we have been learning. For that improvement, we needed two-three days.” Sinha claimed that was the reason the state had been unable to provide total cumulative figures.
The chief secretary also claimed the health department was not getting real time data from the private hospitals. “Compared to how easily we had been getting that from government hospitals, it was not so with private hospitals,” Sinha said. “What that was resulting in was a gap in reporting. That, we have now rectified.”
He assured that the government has now retrieved all the “missing” data. The inter-ministerial central team has said that West Bengal had an “extremely high mortality rate” from Covid-19 and flagged a discrepancy in the cases reported by the West Bengal Health Department in medical bulletins and in its communication with the Centre.
According to the figures released by the health ministry, the state has registered 1,259 coronavirus cases and 133 deaths so far.