KOLKATA: The West Bengal government entangled itself in a mess over the coronavirus death toll on Friday with the chief secretary and state health department officials coming up with contradictory figures.
Hours after a health official, who is a member of the expert committee set up by chief minister Mamata Banerjee to combat Covid-19, announced the total death count to be seven, including four who died in the past 24 hours, chief secretary Rajeeva Sinha claimed the number of deaths was three.
He contended that four of the deceased were hospitalised with other ailments and tested positive later, adding that it could not be established that they died due to the viral infection.
"Four persons expired over the last 24 hours taking the death toll to seven. There were 16 positive cases in the last 24 hours and the total number of infected persons has grown to 53,’’ said the health department official.
The chief secretary subsequently issued a statement contradicting the health department’s statistics. He also projected a lower figure for the viral infection by highlighting the present active cases rather than the total number of people who tested positive in the state.
"Out of 53 cases, three have been cured so the number goes down to 50. The second and confirmatory test results of nine people were negative so the number again dwindles to 41. While three have died of Covid-19, four others who were admitted with other ailments and tested positive later, passed away. Therefore, at present there are 34 active Covid-19 cases in the state,’’ said the chief secretary.
On Friday, the Chief Minister said four more patients tested positive for COVID-19 taking the total count to 38 who are being treated at hospitals. "Nine more persons recovered and they were released on Friday," she said.
She said altogether 5,110 persons are now in quarantine centres set up by the state government while 3,218 have been released and asked to quarantine themselves at home for the next 14 days.