The Inter Ministerial Central Team (IMCT), which is in Kolkata, on Friday raised serious questions on the treatment of COVID-19 patients in West Bengal, particularly at M R Bangur Hospital that serves as the primary referral hospital for treatment of the disease.
The IMCT has sought clarifications on three major points – the facilities at the hospital, the presentation made by the Health Department to it and the committee of doctors approving the deaths of COVID-19 patients.
A letter by the IMCT to Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said there were a large number of patients in the isolation wards of the CNCI (Chittaranjan National Cancer Institute) and M R Bangur Hospital who were awaiting COVID-19 test for five days or longer.
The letter by IMCT leader Apurva Chandra said they had spoken to four patients at M R Bangur Hospital awaiting test results since April 16, two since April 17 and three from April 18. “The patient admission system at the hospital appears to be chaotic. There was no social distancing in the waiting area,” it stated.
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The communication also raised questions on reports in social media that bodies were lying on beds at M R Bangur Hospital awaiting death certificate.
“There are only 12 ventilator beds available in the Bangur hospital even though it caters to 354 serious COVID-19 patients. When asked, the IMCT was informed that in case a patient requires ventilator support, and it is not available, the patient is transferred to other facility. Records in this regards may be made available,” the letter said.
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The IMCT, while pointing out that the State government had said that testing had increased from 400 to 900 a day, sought to know how many of these were repeat tests and how many first-time patients.
“From the presentation, it appears that the State is reaching its peak capacity for testing. Since the State believes that it is at the beginning of the test compared to other States, the IMCT may be provided with any efforts made by the State to increase its testing capacity further in future considering the large population of the State to say 2500/5000 day over what period of time,” the letter said.
The IMCT also sought an interaction with the committee of doctors that is declaring the deaths of COVID-19 patients to understand their methodology.