Centre goofed on test kits, Bengal being defamed: Mamata

West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee

Kolkata, (Samajweekly) Alleging that efforts were on to defame West Bengal, Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee on Wednesday blamed the centre for repeated goof ups with regard to sending Covid 19 test kits that created problems for her state in testing samples.

On a day a record number of 855 samples were tested in her state, Banerjee said the Centre sent defective rapid test kits which it has now withdrawn. “It has also withdrawn the Real time Flourecent RTPCR kits, while the antigen kits are not available in Bengal. We have placed orders for it.

“All these goof-ups created health hazards. For Covid patients, timely testing of samples is very important, because otherwise, the patient may die,” she said.

“Bengal is being defamed. They would have been happy had we brought corona from outside and spread,” she said sarcastically.

Banerjee also attacked the Centre for sending IMCT delegations.

“They are coming here and asking questions on sundry issues like whether people are getting their food, or bathing. Then the centre is sending long hard-hitting letters. I can also do the same,” she said.

Banerjee praised her Health Department for placing orders for kits which has greatly helped the state in conducting tests.

Denying that the state was deliberately conducting less number of tests to show less prevalence of the disease, Chief Secretary Rajiva Sinha said all the 10,000 rapid kits despatched by Indian Council of Medical Research were defective.

“We conducted 220 tests with them. Definitive results were obtained only in a couple of samples. So it was of no use, and a complete waste of time and energy for all our health workers.

“We feel ICMR should have tested the recipe of the kits before sending them to us,” he said.

As for the kits needed for confirmatory tests, he said the Centre was “feeding half-truths”.

He said the chemical RNA Extractor which was needed for conducting the tests, was also in short supply as ICMR gave only 3,056 RNA extractors.

Sinha said the state has now ordered 14,000 RNA extractor kits to continue the tests.

“Had we been solely dependent on ICMR, we wouldn’t have been able to reach where we have reached now.”

The top bureaucrat said while two Viral Transpot Media were needed for every test, the Centre supplied only 2,500. “But we have conducted over 7,000 tests. So we would have needed 14,000 VTMs. But we got only 2,500. We bought most of the kits”.

“We have ordered 45,000. There is a short supply still. But after all this, we are being blamed for some quarters for conducting low number of states. This is not right,” he said.