‘Undertesting, Misreporting of Data’: Bengali Docs Write to Mamata

The doctors, all residents abroad, say they were born and raised in Bengal and have family there

2 min read
File image of West Bengal CM Mamata Banerjee.

A group of non-resident Bengali physicians have written an open letter to West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee, expressing concerns over the state's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, that has put India under a nationwide lockdown.

The doctors – who say that they were born and educated in Bengal, and have families living in the state – especially raised concerns about the state's testing rates and transparency regarding reporting of data.


"In the last week and a half, we have come across or watched, with growing concern, reports on the COVID-19 situation in West Bengal. There are two specific issues that are most disturbing to us: 1) the gross under-testing in West Bengal, and 2) the misreporting of data on the cause of death in COVID-19 patients," read the letter.

The letter further said that while testing rates across India are concerning, the situation in West Bengal was "particularly grave". They cited reports to state that the state government's insistence on each sample test being approved by them has pulled Bengal's testing rate really low. It has also led to underestimation of the number of cases.

"This gross underestimation in the number of truly affected areas may have dangerous consequences, specifically in: 1) not being prepared with adequate healthcare capacity to handle the pandemic burden in the state, and 2) failing to arrest spread of the infection by asymptomatic cases, who may be spreading unknowingly", the letter said.

Remarking on the state's decision to have an expert audit committee to classify which deaths are "COVID deaths", the doctors alleged that deaths from the virus are being misclassified on death certificates.

The doctors concluded by asking the chief minister to increase testing in the state and take responsibility for accurate reporting of data.

The Chief Minister's Office is yet to respond to the letter.

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