Death count in Bengal jumps to 33 as per findings of Audit Committee

Published : April 30, 2020 22:25 IST

In Kolkata, porters and labourers line up to get lunch packets distributed by the police at Posta Transport Mandi, the wholesale grain market, on April 30. Photo: Rajeev Bhatt

The total number of people declared dead due to COVID-19 by the Audit Committee of the West Bengal government has increased from 22 to 33 within one day. Out of the 105 cases referred so far to the Audit Committee—which was set up to ascertain the cause of death of a person who tested positive for COVID-19—33 have been found to have died of coronavirus infection, while the remaining 72 COVID-positive patients died of co-morbidities, according to the State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha.

Sinha, made it clear that the jump in the death toll was not something that happened overnight. While addressing a press conference on April 30, he said, “These deaths have not taken place in the last 24 hours.... I do not have the exact figure [of how many died yesterday], but I do not think it will be more than two.”

On April 24, the Chief Secretary in his press briefing said that the Audit Committee had declared 18 people dead of COVID-19, and 39 other COVID-positive cases referred to it as deaths due to other causes. The total number of COVID-positive people who had died (as distinct, according to the State government, from the total number of people who died of COVID-19) was declared to be 57 then.

The Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) that are visiting the COVID-19 hotspots in West Bengal had raised questions about the manner in which the Audit Committee determined the cause of death of a COVID-positive patient. The IMCTs had also sought an interaction with the Audit Committee to “understand their methodology”.

“Active” COVID cases in the State, as of April 30, stood at 572, with 37 new cases in the last 24 hours. According to Sinha, more than 80 per cent of the new cases have come from Kolkata, Howrah and North 24 Parganas. Testing has also increased in the State, with the sample testing per million standing at 183. Till just three weeks ago, the rate of testing in the State was reportedly around 33.7 per million, one of the lowest in the country.

As of April 30, there are 444 zones where there are orders of “complete containment,” of which 264 are in Kolkata alone.