Covid-19 crisis: Mamata Banerjee lashes out at govt over testing kits

The Centre has sent two IMCTs to West Bengal to see the ground realities of the lockdown measures, attacks on health workers and others
Even as the West Bengal government provided “highest assurance” to the Union home ministry of implementing its order of assisting the two inter-ministerial central teams (IMCT), Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee took a dig at the Centre over lack of testing kits.

She said the state was arranging its own kits after poor response from the Centre.  She claimed that so far, 7,037 Viral Transport Medium (VTM) tests had been conducted, which required 14,074 test kits. Each VTM test requires two kits.

“They (Centre) send teams to find out if lockdown is being implemented, if people are getting to eat, what is the state of hygiene and write huge letters. The Centre lectures us over the lockdown and Covid-19 situation but only 2,500 test kits have been provided by the Centre,” she said.

She said the Centre was talking about low testing rates in the state, while it recalled the entire batch of rapid testing kits as they were faulty.

At a time when the National Institute of Cholera and Enteric Diseases Director Shanta Dutta complained about underutilisation of the institute’s testing facilities, the state government hit back saying rapid testing kits gave ambiguous results and were faulty. In a letter addressed to Home Secretary Ajay Bhalla, West Bengal’s Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said, “This is to convey my highest assurances for the implementation of the orders of the Centre as well as the directions of the Supreme Court.”

The Centre has sent two IMCTs to West Bengal to assess implementation of lockdown measures, attacks on health workers, among other things.

After the two teams landed in the state on Tuesday, the Centre wrote a letter to Sinha alleging that the state government was not cooperating and had restrained IMCTs from carrying out their duties.

Trinamool Congress parliamentarians like Derek O’Brien and Abhishek Banerjee had also attacked the Centre alleging violation of protocols and attack on federal structure.


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