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West Bengal: Days after video of suspected coronavirus patients sitting next to dead bodies goes viral, govt bans mobile phones in hospitals

In a viral video, a person admitted to an isolation ward in MR Bangur Hospital in West Bengal narrates the deplorable conditions under which suspected Coronavirus patients have been quarantined.

The West Bengal government led by CM Mamata Banerjee has banned the use of mobile phones inside hospitals, saying they are a risk as they could carry the coronavirus around. Doctors, health workers and patients have been banned from using cell phones inside hospitals, the state chief secretary Rajiva Sinha said on Wednesday. Landlines and intercom would be installed for the use of patients in isolation wards, he said.

“Novel #coronavirus spreads through mobile phone and a decision has been taken, as per WHO guidelines, to control the spread of infection. All doctors, medical staff and patients must deposit their mobile phones outside and collect it while leaving the hospital”, ANI quoted Bengal Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha as saying.

Netizens question Mamata Banerjee’s move, links it to video

Netizens were quick to respond to this WB government’s decision of banning mobiles in hospitals. They promptly linked this move to the shocking video posted by Union Minister, Babul Supriyo, on April 20, highlighting the apathy in West Bengal, where suspected coronavirus patients were being kept in close proximity to dead bodies.

Babul Supriyo, who had demanded an inquiry into the matter, also responded to this unprecedented move by the West Bengal government saying that he believed the video was authentic, given the government’s ban on mobile phones in hospitals.

Posting a WhatsApp screenshot displaying the unconfirmed report of the man’s detention and tagging WB CM Mamata Banerjee, Union Minister of State Babul Supriyo today sought an explanation from the West Bengal government, whether or not it booked and detained a man who posted footage of conditions inside a Kolkata hospital for coronavirus patients.

Meanwhile, another Twitter user Rishi Bagree also said that the fact that West Bengal government has banned mobile phone soon after Somdutt das shot a video depicting dead bodies lying around in Quarantine ward along with Corona patients, proves that the video was authentic. “The truth is revealed”, wrote the Twitter user.

Similarly, another Twitter user going by the handle @attomeybharti took to Twitter to take a dig at Mamata Government for banning mobile phones, wondering what kind of outrage would there be, had any BJP govt-issued a similar order.

Video from a West Bengal hospital

In a video shared by Babul Supriyo, BJP MP from Asansol on April 20, a person admitted to an isolation ward in MR Bangur Hospital in Tollygunge in West Bengal narrates the deplorable conditions under which suspected Coronavirus patients have been quarantined. 45 seconds into the video, the man holding the camera points towards a dead body lying unattended on a bed for over 2-3 hours.

The man alleged that no provisions had been made by the hospital authorities to dispose off the body. He then directs the viewers to another dead body that is concealed behind black curtains. The video creator then highlighted the lack of proper social distancing provisions in the ward by citing the example of two other suspected Coronavirus patients who are in close proximity to the body of the deceased.

Babul Supriyo in his tweet has demanded an inquiry into the matter and to release facts at the earliest.

West Bengal sitting on a Time Bomb

The suppression of facts and fudging of data has become a major worry for authorities and health experts in West Bengal, which has now snowballed into a huge controversy between the Trinamool Congress-led West Bengal government and doctors who are whistleblowing against the state government for forcing health authorities not to declare deaths from coronavirus unless certified by a state government-nominated panel.

According to a Sunday Guardian report, the manipulation of data on coronavirus cases by the Mamata Banerjee-led government, expectedly, has come under fire from officials of the Kolkata-wing of the Indian Council of Medical Research, who have blamed the TMC-led government for slowing down the mandatory tests related to the deadly virus.

The troubling part is that the state government has not even responded to the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of the Central government’s declaration that the whole of Kolkata city and some of its districts should be declared as Coronavirus hotspots.

Mamata vs Centre

On April 20, the West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee questioned the formation of the Inter-Ministerial Central Teams (IMCT) constituted by the Central Government for quick redressal of coronavirus crisis in states claiming that it is ‘not consistent with the spirit of federalism’.

Earlier, the Central government had constituted 6 IMCTs to make an on-spot assessment of the coronavirus situation and issue necessary directions to state authorities for its redressal. The IMCT would also submit its report to the central government in the larger interest of the general public

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