Amidst the ongoing second wave of the coronavirus pandemic in the country, an exclusive report by The Hindu suggests that as many as 4500 Covid-19 death cases have not been recorded by the Delhi government over the last 24 days.
As per the report, a cumulative discrepancy of 4,783 deaths was discovered upon comparing funeral and government death toll statistics between April 18 and May 11.
While the municipal records suggested that 12,833 COVID patients succumbed during the 24-day period, the Delhi government recorded only 8,050 COVID deaths during the same interval.
The variation in the everyday figures was as high as 336 during peak and 32 at its lowest.
The BJP-led civic body has alleged that the AAP-led Delhi government is making a deliberate attempt to hide the actual COVID deaths by suppressing death statistics and excluding suspected coronavirus patients from the tally.
North MCD Mayor Jai Prakash alleged, “The government has been hiding (death) figures since the pandemic started. Not only did they ignore our request for help in procuring firewood for cremations so citizens do not face inconvenience, they are sitting on funds meant to pay salaries of doctors and sanitation workers engaged everywhere from our COVID hospitals to funeral venues.”
Discrepancy in numbers could be due to ‘other technical’ reasons
Another senior MCD official attributed other ‘technical reasons’ to the mismatch in the death toll figures.
“There are two main reasons: the government excluding suspected COVID cases, patients with life-threatening illnesses and non-Delhi residents from the death tally. For us, the last rites of all designated COVID bodies are performed as per protocol irrespective of these reasons,” the official said.
Adding to the reasons, the official said, “The other reason is dead bodies of COVID patients are not being laid to rest on the day of their death. Many times families refuse to claim such bodies for one reason or another; these are then brought to funeral venues for last rites in batches of multiple bodies by the police, NGOs and Good Samaritans.”
The Delhi government has also denied the allegations suggesting many patients die while on the way to hospitalization or outside a hospital on not getting timely admission.
A Delhi government official remarked, “We are completely transparent in all matters and especially the pandemic, all deaths are accounted for. In many instances, patients also die due to comorbidities aggravated by COVID after testing negative either at a hospital or at home.”
Delhi’s Health Minister says government has kept everything “transparent”
Delhi Health Minister Satyendar Jain on April 29 told the media that the government had kept everything “transparent”.
Lashing out in response to the allegations, Jain said, “This is not the time to politicise things. Six months ago, the same concern was seen but nevertheless was proved that the numbers were accurate. First and foremost, nobody here wants even a single life lost. Secondly, we do not have any right to conceal the numbers. The death certificates are being drafted constantly, and if the fatality is due to COVID-19, it is being duly mentioned in them.”
Cases in Delhi
As the new Covid-19 cases dip in Delhi, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal announced a one-week extension of the lockdown suggesting that the gains made so far in combating Covid-19 cannot be lost due to relaxations now.
“The recovery rate is going up and the positivity rate is going down. In the last 24 hours, around 6,500 new cases have been recorded in Delhi and the positivity rate has dropped to 10% — down from 11% the previous day. We cannot let our guards down now,” the Delhi CM said.