‘Committee Won’t Audit All COVID-19 Deaths Anymore,’ Says WB Govt
The government announced that only hospitals will now issue death certificates in COVID-related deaths.
The government audit committee that was "auditing" each COVID-19 death in West Bengal and was classifying it into "COVID" and "co-morbid" deaths, will no longer be examining every virus-related death, said West Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha on Monday, 4 May.
He also added that from now on, only hospitals will be issuing death certificates for COVID-19 deaths, but they will “only be documenting the COVID deaths” and “not the co-morbidities”.
The audit committee for COVID-19 deaths in West Bengal has come under severe criticism from Opposition parties and civil society alike for allegedly trying to suppress data related to coronavirus deaths in the state.
Earlier, on 30 April, the state government had said that the committee, till that day, had examined 105 deaths of COVID-19 positive patients, of which 33 were "COVID" deaths and 72 were "deaths due to co-morbidities, in which COVID was incidental".
The government had indicated then that the committee may stop auditing all deaths, amidst mounting criticism and controversy.
The government also did not provide regular figures of how many deaths the committee was examining each day since its inception.
"It's not like after the committee has stopped looking into the deaths and that's why the number (of deaths) has increased", said Sinha, addressing the press at the state secretariat, Nabanna, in Kolkata. He was referring to the 28 deaths that the state has recorded over the last four days since the audit committee numbers were released.
"There was a definite, benevolent and research purpose in doing the exercise", Sinha added. "Now that the exercise is completed, we are sure the doctors in the hospitals will follow their recommendation and the recommendation of the ICMR in writing the death certificates", he said.
The committee will now only be doing "sample testing".
The hospitals will also only send the state government "data of COVID deaths" and "not co-morbid deaths".
As per latest state government figures, Bengal recorded 1,259 COVID positive cases till 4 May, with 133 deaths, of which 61 have been classified as "COVID deaths" and 72 have been classified as "co-morbid" deaths.
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