New Delhi: Delhi, which has seen the third highest number of COVID-19 positive cases at over 6,000 in the country, is now facing scrutiny for under-reporting deaths due to the novel coronavirus.
While the city state has reported a total of 68 deaths due to the pandemic so far, a compilation of data available with various hospitals treating the virus patients has revealed that the actual figure should be almost twice as much, reported Indian Express.
In the case of Lok Nayak Jaiprakash Narayan Hospital alone, while the hospital confirmed there were 47 deaths, the Delhi government has only registered five casualties. Similarly, for Safdarjung Hospital, where over 30 COVID-19 positive patients died in April alone, the Delhi government data only confirmed four deaths till May 6. So in these two hospitals alone 68 additional patients had died.
The issue of alleged underreporting of deaths was highlighted when some media organisations began comparing data available with the dedicated hospitals treating COVID patients with that being provided by the Health Department in its daily bulletin.
What caught the attention of reporters was the fact that the government figures on death due to COVID-19 came to a standstill at 64 on May 2 and stayed the same till May 5. However, as people were dying in different parts of the city, it soon became known that the actual situation on the ground was not being depicted in official statements.
Since May 2, reports said 20 people died due to the coronavirus in LNJP Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital.
It was after a gap of four days on May 6 that one more death was shown on the government records. It was of a Delhi police constable who died within 18 hours of developing symptoms of the virus. He was taken to a couple of hospitals by his colleagues but was told to home quarantine. He passed away following complications.
What is most intriguing is that the toll from LNJP Hospital, which is right in the heart of the capital and has been made a COVID-19 hospital, has been underreported too. The LNJP hospital Medical Director, J.C. Passey told a national daily:
“I don’t know what the Delhi bulletin is reporting. At our hospital there have been 47 COVID-19 deaths so far. I don’t know why they are showing less, you’ll have to check that with the Delhi government.”
From the hospital data it also became clear that while the Delhi government insisted that no one died between May 2 and 7, that was not the case. At LNJP Hospital, six patients died on May 4, another six on May 5 and five on May 6. All these deaths were recorded in the medicine ward of the hospital.
Apart from the LNJP Hospital, the casualty figures from other big hospitals during the May 2 to 5 period have also not been reported in their entirety.
At Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, two COVID-19 positive patients died on May 3 and 4 while a person who was declared brought dead on May 5 was also found positive.
The situation is no different when it comes to private hospitals. While Max Hospital, Saket, confirmed 20 COVID deaths, the Delhi government only puts the toll against the hospital tally at four.
The under-reporting of deaths in Delhi also puts a big question mark on the authenticity of the figures pertaining to total COVID-19 cases and fatalities being put out by the Union Ministry of Health and Family Welfare on a daily basis.