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Opinion

Covid-19: low scores in West Bengal – editorials

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Given its population, population density, geographic location (sharing international borders with three countries and national borders with five other states), and high migration rates, West Bengal should have recognized that it is particularly vulnerable to coronavirus disease (Covid -19). It also had the added advantage of a strong prime minister in Mamata Banerjee and a ruling party, the Trinamool Congress, which is deeply rooted across the state. Therefore, he had the political strength and administrative skills to be able to trace and contain the disease.

Unfortunately, West Bengal has performed poorly in the battle against Covid-19. This stems from a variety of factors. It started with extremely low tests. It established a system where deaths were audited by a committee that, in cases of people with concomitant diseases, would assign the cause of death to other conditions instead of Covid-19. Nor did it rigorously follow protocols on hospital admissions, location of contacts, and containment. Finally, as a core team pointed out this week, the state ended up with one of the highest death rates in the country at over 12%. Also, in many days, it did not extract data. All of this appears to have stemmed from the West Bengal government’s desire to show success, where success was defined as a low number of cases.

This was a mistake, because pretending the problem doesn’t exist won’t make the problem go away. Only by assuming it aggressively is the chance of disease spread minimized. To be fair, the state government has made certain corrections. Now it has adopted the protocol of the Indian Council of Medical Research to record deaths, scrapped the committee to audit the deaths, began publicly publishing the number of cumulative cases, and instituted stronger isolation measures. You should learn from your mistakes and emulate best practices from now on.

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