In addition to the fears of surviving this pandemic, citizens of West Bengal have to unfortunately cater to an additional anxiety resulting from — the reportedly dubious coronavirus statistics laid out by the state and some untimely political measures taken by the Centre to deal with the situation.
The beginning of the COVID-19 scare in India, in February this year, was worrisome for the state of West Bengal. This was mainly because statistics showed the healthcare facilities in West Bengal not at par with that of Maharashtra and Kerala. In both these states, the situation had been on the verge of going out-of-hand in the initial days. According to the parameters of Sustainable Development Goal 3 (Good Health and Well Being) estimated by NITI Aayog’s SDG India Index 2019-2020, West Bengal scores 70 (out of 100) in comparison to Maharashtra’s 76 and Kerala’s highest score of 82. In fact, the concentration of medical facilities in Kolkata as opposed to rural Bengal made the access to healthcare infrastructure a major problem for a large majority of the state’s population. Additionally, the proximity of state of West Bengal with various international borders along with the developments of Bengali migrant labourers being sent back from the other states to their home state contributed in making the situation worse.
The first coronavirus positive case in West Bengal was in Kolkata of an 18-year-old man who returned from the UK. It created quite a furore in the political circles of the state when this man was found to be the son of a senior state government official, who claimed to have flouted the quarantine rules and even visited the West Bengal State Secretariat after his return. However, this was just the beginning of the political mess that the state would run into in the next few weeks.