The COVID-19 death rate in Bengal is still higher than the national average. While the national average stands at 1.09, in Bengal it is 1.26 percent as on 7th May.
The national average includes the figures of those states, including Maharashtra, where the number of affected people is proportionately much higher. If a huge number of people are affected, the health infrastructure cannot cope up with it, and more people die. But in Bengal, this is not the situation.
During the first wave, the number of infected in proportion to the population was low in Bengal. Though during the second wave it has come up in the list of first seven most affected states, the number of total affected since the outbreak of covid-19 is still below 10 lakhs. The exact figure is 9,54,282. Out of it, 12,076 have lost their lives.
The health department sources however provide some good news regarding the current situation. According to them, during the second wave, the number of people dying has significantly come down. For example, on Friday 112 people have died. But for last two weeks, on average, the number of infected was above 14 thousand. So, the present death rate is much below 1 per cent.
For every detected case of Covid-19, the state health department has a system to regularly monitor each case. According to sources, some avoidable deaths are taking place as the patients are delaying admission to the hospital or are not getting beds at the proper time. The second wave came on a sudden and caught the concerned unaware. But now that the system has geared up, the doctors serving the state health facilities feel the current death rate may soon come down to 0.5 per cent. The cumulative figure and percentage may still remain high as Bengal had a higher death rate during the first few months of the first wave.
However, Bengal’s covid death rate is much higher than not only Kerala, a state that has been hailed for its good health infrastructure, but also that of neighbouring Assam or Odisha, states that have never been appreciated for having good health facilities. The experts have no answer to the question of why Bengal’s death rate is higher than Odisha and Assam’s.
(The author Diptendra Raychaudhuri is a senior journalist based in Kolkata. He has a wide range of experience in covering West Bengal politics and has authored several books)