New Delhi, May 7: Highlighting the high COVID-19 mortality rates of 13.2 per cent in the state, low testing and worrying instances of attack on health workers, the Centre on Wednesday asked the West Bengal Government to attend the objections raised by the visiting two InterMinisterial Central teams (IMTCs). In a strong worded letter written to the State Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha, the Union Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla said that the response to COVlD-l9 in the State was characterized by a very low rate of testing in proportion to the population and a very high rate of mortality of 13.2 per cent for the State, by far the highest for any State.
“This is a reflection of poor surveillance, detection and testing in the State. There is also a need to increase random testing in crowded clusters”, he said. “Lockdown violations have been noted in the cities of Kolkata and Howrah by specific groups in specific localities with media reports of the ‘corona warriors' including even the police being attacked in such localities”, Mr Bhalla said in a two-page letter to State Government, adding that the stricter enforcement of lockdown must be done by enhancing police presence. Instances of problems faced due to ostracism of health care professionals and lack of quarantine facilities is also worrying, the letter further said.
Noting the instances of overcrowding in bazars with poor sanitation, free movement of people in large numbers without masks, bathing of people in rivers, people playing cricket and football, serious laxity in enforcing lockdown measures in Containment zones, plying of rickshaws without any restriction, the Union Home Secretary said that these have been a grave violation of lockdown instructions and social distancing norms. Directing the State administration for to scale up testing facilities in hill districts of North Bengal as transporting the test samples to Siliguri is challenging and causes delays, Bhalla further said that indefinite delays in testing results have further affected the contact tracing process and has put patients under high risk.(UNI)