Slamming the Mamata Banerjee government's COVID-19 Advisory Committee and Audit committee, BJP I-T chief Amit Malviya, on Saturday, pointed out that the expert body had no virologist, no respiratory medicine specialist to head the committee. Similarly, the audit committee which decided if a patient's death was classified as a COVID-19 death, had no forensic specialist, pointed out Malviya. He added that now, an Ophthalmologist had been appointed by the Bengal government to oversee COVID operations in North Bengal.
Advisory Committee appointed by CM Mamata Banerjee has no Virologist or Epidemiologist. Expert Audit Committee has no Forensic specialist. Now an Ophthalmologist to coordinate Covid related issues in North Bengal! Political affiliation takes precedence over specialisation? Why?— Amit Malviya (@amitmalviya) April 18, 2020
Earlier in the day, the West Bengal's Doctors Forum has opposed the Bengal government's decision, writing to the Principal secretary stating their surprise at the appointment of Dr. Susanta Kumar Roy - Sr. Medical officer (Ophthalmology) to head COVID-19 operations in North Bengal districts. They pointed out that public health specialists trained in community medicine were best equipped to deal with the pandemic. Bengal government has appointed a five-member death audit committee to declare if a person has died of the viral disease - this move has been heavily criticized by the Opposition, alleging that government was under-reporting deaths due to Coronavirus.
The state has seen several lockdown violations for past two weeks - notably in Murshidabad and Hooghly were several people gathered at a mosque to offer Friday prayers. Though police had dispersed the crowd immediately, CM Mamata Banerjee has taken cognizance of the repeated violations in that district and has directed the Murshidabad DIG to stop such gatherings. The MHA too has written to Banerjee highlighting that the lockdown guidelines were being violated in several parts of the state, stating that the West Bengal government had allowed more exemptions leading to a gradual dilution of the lockdown.
On Saturday, the West Bengal government declared that the lockdown would be extended till April 30 and all educational institutions would be closed till June 10. No one will be able to step out of their homes in 10 hotspots from where several COVID-19 cases have been reported. Earlier in the day, wearing face masks or any available cloth to cover nose and mouth was made compulsory in West Bengal. The state's COVID-19 tally stands at 287, with 10 deaths.