In coronavirus-battered Madhya Pradesh, information about samples isn't being shared
Transparency and the dissemination of correct data are crucial in the fight against coronavirus, but in Madhya Pradesh, these suggestions have gone for a toss. For the past ten days or so, the government, run by BJP's Shivraj Singh Chouhan, has stopped sharing the data about samples collected for COVID-19. The data about results is also under the wraps. Naturally, experts are concerned.
According to HT, the state's health department confirmed that 38,708 samples had been collected till April 26. 8,439 results were said to be awaited. After that release, another note was circulated which didn't mention the number of cumulative samples or data about awaited-results. The second bulletin had details about positive and negative cases but there were discrepancies.
Strangely, between the first and second bulletin, the number of sample reports dipped by 5,000. Further, there was a difference of 9,000 between negative samples of the first and second bulletins. Meanwhile, reports from districts suggested 10,899 samples have been collected from Indore, 3,522 from Ujjain, and 15,000 from capital Bhopal. In one of the hotspots, Indore, 79 deaths were reported till Tuesday.
Health experts said MP's laxity will have disastrous consequences and underscored transparency will help win this battle. In a letter to the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR), public health experts Dr. Biswaroop Chatterjee, Amulya Nidhi, and SR Azad said MP has tested fewer people than its neighboring states like Maharashtra, Gujarat, Delhi, and Rajasthan. These states disclose pertinent data on a daily basis.
Their letter read, "As of May 5, the state has done total number of 54,595 tests which translates to about 602 tests per million whereas Maharashtra has conducted 1,628 tests per million with a total of 182,884 tests so far. In Gujarat, Delhi and Rajasthan the tests per million stand at 1,483, 4,162, and 1,970 respectively." They said the situation worsened quickly in MP.
"The situation has worsened fast with a total of 3,049 reported positive cases and 176 deaths as of May 5. The state's fatality rate is 5.77% against the national 3.42% and its test positivity rate is 5.58% against the national average of 3.87%," they said.
The experts called for coercive action and said a people-centric approach is important. Defending the government, the Health Department's Additional Chief Secretary Mohd Suleman said only ICMR test data is acceptable. "We are only considering the data given by ICMR recognized testing labs. That is included in the bulletin. Labs don't accept samples which are not as per the ICMR protocol," he said.