West Bengal’s Covid-19 deaths cross 400-mark but fatality rate improves

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Even as West Bengal’s death toll due to coronavirus disease Covid-19 has crossed the 400-mark, its fatality rate has improved.

With nine more deaths reported on Monday, the state’s death count now stands at 405, according to the state health department bulletin released on Monday night. Of the 405 deaths, 266 or 65.6% had co-morbid conditions.

The last time the state had given data for comorbidity in the deaths of Covid-19 patients was on April 30, when the state attributed 72 of the 105 deaths, or 68.5%, to comorbidity.

The fatality rate due to Covid-19 in the state has, however, significantly improved. On April 30, the state’s death rate stood at 10.19%, with 105 deaths among 1,030 Covid-19 positive patients. As on June 8, the state’s death rate stood at 4.7%, with 405 deaths among the total 8,613 persons testing positive for the coronavirus infection.

This, however, is still higher than the national average. India’s fatality rate stood at 2.8% as of Monday morning, with 7,200 deaths reported against 256,611 persons testing positive for the disease.

Only four states have recorded more deaths than Bengal, as of June 8 — Maharashtra (3169), Gujarat (1,280), Delhi (874) and Madhya Pradesh (414). While Maharashtra has a mortality rate of 3.57% and Delhi has it as 2.91%, Madhya Pradesh’s mortality rate due to Covid-19 is at 4.29% and Gujarat at 6.22%.

Among the districts, Kolkata reported a much higher fatality rate at 9% – nearly double Bengal’s average. The capital city accounted for 260 deaths against 2,886 persons testing positive. Kolkata and its neighbouring districts of Howrah and North 24-Parganas have long been the epicentre of the Covid-19 outbreak in Bengal, until a couple of weeks ago when migrant workers returning to the rural districts started testing positive in their dozens.

“The death rate is low in the districts, first because most of the cases are new ones and secondly because most of the migrant workers are asymptomatic patients. In Kolkata, symptomatic patients made a large majority,” said a health department official while explaining Kolkata’s high death rate.

Government officials also said a higher percentage of deaths in private Covid-19 hospitals has been noticed and it has been decided that a ‘death audit committee’ will look into such cases.

As per the health department data, death rate has been lower among men, at 4.48%, whereas for women it stood at 5.4%. There is also a huge gap in death rate between the age groups of 1-45 years and above 45 years.

The death rate is lowest among 16-30 age groups – at .17%. It is also low in the 1-16 age group at .69% and at 1.67% for the 30-45 age group. However, the rate is very high at 21.07% for those aged above 75. It stands at 15.39% for the age group of 60-75 and at 7.03% for the 40-60 age group..

Bengal’s discharge rate stood at 40.2%, with 3,465 persons discharged from hospitals following recovery.

Meanwhile, the West Bengal government on Monday extended lockdown restrictions in containment zones till June 30 in line with the Union home ministry’s guidelines. The restrictions were earlier in force till June 15.

However, there would be certain relaxations outside the containment zones, where only essential services are allowed. A government order on extending lockdown said 25 people can attend marriages, funerals and places of worship at a time. The number was previously fixed at 10.

“Norms of physical distancing and health hygiene protocol must be strictly followed. Any violation in compliance of norms of physical distancing, health hygiene protocol and wearing of masks shall attract penal action as per law,” the Bengal government order said.

“It is reiterated that movement of individuals shall remain prohibited between 9 pm to 5am, except for essential activities. District administration and local authorities shall issue appropriate orders in this regard and ensure strict compliance,” the order said.