KOLKATA: Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday slammed the Centre for sending teams to look into West Bengal's preparedness for tackling the COVID-19 outbreak and alleged that faulty testing kits were dispatched to the state.
Banerjee's comments came a day after a war of words broke out between the West Bengal and the Union governments over the arrival of two central teams in the state to assess the coronavirus situation.
"Canards are being spread every day that only a few are getting tested in Bengal for COVID-19. This is absolutely false. Faulty kits were sent to Bengal which have now been withdrawn. We didn't even get adequate testing kits," she told a press conference.
The CM said all rapid testing kits sent to West Bengal have been withdrawn by the Union Health Ministry, while the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases (NICED), the Indian Council of Medical Research's (ICMR) nodal agency in the state, mailed to the state government on April 21 asking it not to use the BGI RT-PCR kits.
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There are three types of kits, rapid testing, BGI RT-PCR and antigen, she said adding that the first two types have been withdrawn by the Centre and antigen kits are not available in Bengal hospitals.
Banerjee said there should not be any delay in testing a COVID-19 patient as per the ICMR recommendations, but stressed that it is difficult to treat coronavirus-affected people without adequate testing kits.
She also alleged that the Centre did not provide to the state an adequate number of swab kits required to test whether a case is positive or not.
The state is using swab kits procured by it, the chief minister said, adding that she did not understand the central agencies' plans to fight the pandemic.
Banerjee said some people are levelling charges that the state government is not providing adequate PPEs to health workers but the Centre gave it only 7,000 PPE kits.
The state government, meanwhile, distributed 4,19,000 PPE kits procured by it, she.
"Every day they (Centre) are telling us what to do and what not to do, sending people to look into the law and order situation and our preparedness against coronavirus. They are sending us strongly worded letters. We can also send them letters. But that's not the point," she said.
Meanwhile, senior Trinamool Congress leader Abhishek Banerjee said, "ICMR sends us faulty kits, recommends not to use remaining kits & your minions claim IMCTs are not getting enough support. With no ICMR supplied kits for testing in WB, what are IMCTs doing? Is a media spectacle worth more than the lives of people from Bengal? #BengaliLivesMatter."
The central team visiting West Bengal to assess the COVID-19 situation has alleged non-cooperation from the state government.