Updated: September 9, 2020 9:31:38 am
Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly, Devendra Fadnavis, on Tuesday alleged that the actual number of Covid-19 deaths in Mumbai was much higher than those reported by the government.
Accusing the government of suppressing the number of cases and deaths, Fadnavis alleged that while the number of Covid-19 related deaths reported in Mumbai was 7,900 (as on September 7), the actual number was nearly 15,000.
“We weren’t fighting the coronavirus at all in the initial half of the pandemic. We were playing the number game. This is still being done. We can’t fight the pandemic this way,” he said.
Countering the accusation, Public Health Minister Rajesh Tope said, “I say this with full responsibility that there has been utmost transparency in reporting of cases and deaths. It has been done as per the Indian Council of Medical Research’s guidelines.”
Fadnavis used the debate on the supplementary budgetary demands in the Assembly on Tuesday to target the government for “mismanaging” the Covid-19 crisis. Pointing out that Maharashtra continued to account for the highest number of active cases and about 38 per cent of all Covid-19 deaths in India, he accused the government of “not being serious at all about handling the crisis situation”.
“On March 14, when this House was adjourned, the state had reported 26 cases. This has now gone up to 9,07,212,” said Fadnavis, opening the debate.
Alleging corruption in even operational works, including the setting up of Covid care centres, he said that mortality rate among patients admitted to jumbo care facilities in Mumbai was as high as 37 per cent. “Are these healthcare facilities or death depots?” he asked.
Contending that the rate of positivity in Maharashtra was way above the national average, Fadnavis blamed the low testing ratio for the same.
Tope, however, maintained that the state has conducted the most number of tests and that the test per million population ratio of Maharashtra was higher than the country’s overall average. He added that auditors have been appointed to oversee administration of private hospitals involved in Covid-19 operations. While Maharashtra’s case fatality rate has dropped by 2.59 per cent, case doubling rate has improved to 35 per cent and the recovery rate among patients is now up to 75 per cent, said the minister.
Tope also urged Fadnavis to ensure that the Centre does not discontinue assistance towards supply of Covid-19 combat essentials, including PPE kits and masks. “The Centre has announced discontinuation of supplies from September 1. This will additionally burden the state exchequer by Rs 300 crore,” he said.
Fadnavis, meanwhile, also accused the government of ignoring backward regions of Vidarbha and Marathwada. “We understand the focus of government is Mumbai, Pune and Thane. But I think it’s time we have to remind the government that Aurangabad, Nashik and Nagpur are also a part of Maharashtra. People living there also belong to Maharashtra… they are facing serious problems due to increased number of Covid-19 cases,” he said.
The former CM added that eastern Vidarbha, ravaged by floods, is still awaiting relief package from the government. “Even smaller states have given financial package for Covid-19 pandemic. But in Maharashtra, the government is neither giving financial assistance for Covid-19 nor for floods.”
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