Delhi government fudges COVID-19 data, reports fewer deaths

An analysis of the COVID-19 data put out by the Delhi government reveals that the state has been hiding the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the National Capital

Photo courtesy- social media
Photo courtesy- social media
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Ashlin Mathew

An analysis of the COVID-19 data put out by the Delhi government reveals that the state has been hiding the number of deaths due to coronavirus in the National Capital. Since May 2, 2020, the Delhi government has insisted that the number of deaths have remained at 65. But since then 20 more persons have died of Covid-19 at Lok Nayak Hospital and Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital together.

According to the data released by the Delhi government through its dedicated site - https://delhifightscorona.in/ - the government stated that as of May 2, 64 people died due to Covid-19 infections. But from May 2 to May 5, the government insisted that no one had died due to Covid-19 and hence the number remained static at 64. On May 6, according to the state’s health bulletin, only one more person died - a Delhi police constable, whose case was widely reported.

With 5,532 cases, Delhi is right behind Maharashtra and Gujarat in terms of number of cases among all states and union territories.

A scrutiny of the data from Lok Nayak Hospital, a dedicated COVID-19 facility in Delhi shows that on May 4, six patients died, on May 5, six patients died and on May 6, the tally was five. On May 3, no one died at LN Hospital. All the deaths happened in the medicine ward of the hospital where most of the patients have co-morbidities. COVID-19 patients are admitted in the emergency, surgery, gynaecology and paediatric wards of the hospital.

What is disconcerting is that the health bulletin released by the Delhi government on May 6 states that at LN Hospital only five COVID-19 deaths have occurred totally.

This has been countered by the LN Hospital Medical Director Dr JC Passey. “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,” said Passey.

At Rajiv Gandhi Super Specialty Hospital, two COVID-19 positive patients with co-morbidities died on May 3, May 4. A patient was also suffering from hypertension and diabetes. On May 5, a patient who was brought dead to the hospital also tested positive.

At Safdarjung Hospital, the largest Central Government hospital in the country by bed strength, more than 30 Covid-19 positive patients have died in April. National Herald has not yet been able to ascertain the number of deaths in May. But the Delhi government states that only four deaths have occurred at the hospital as of May 6.

According to sources at Max Hospital, at least 20 patients who had tested positive for COVID-19 have died in April and May. The Delhi government’s health bulletin, however, states that only four COVID-19 deaths have occurred at Max Hospitals. Sources at Max Hospital insist that the government was under reporting the numbers.

“Thank you for reaching out to us. Like we discussed, all numbers are reported to the authorities concerned as per laid guidelines. They compile the data and put it up on their website. It is best that you check details with the relevant authorities in case you feel there is any mismatch,” said Tanushree Roy Chowdhury, Head of Corporate Communications at Max Healthcare.

The Delhi government has also stopped releasing the number of pending tests each day. In Delhi, 26 labs, 13 government and 13 private labs have been authorised to conduct COVID-19 tests.Till April 29, the government would release the details of the number of tests pending at both government and private labs and the number of samples processed in the last 24 hours.

Instead, the Delhi Government has replaced it with the number of cases admitted in dedicated COVID-19 facilities (both public and private). But, even in this new list, they would not give the names of all the hospitals where the deaths had occurred. They would only provide the number of deaths that had occurred designated COVID-19 hospitals and as an addendum state that the rest of the deaths were reported from “other hospitals”.

National Herald made several calls to the state health minister Satyendar Jain, who did not answer any calls. Shaleen Mitra, OSD to Jain, said he was not authorised to answer any media queries.

Currently, the mortality rate in Delhi is 1.2% with 65 deaths, but if we were to include the unreported numbers, the mortality rate in the national capital will rise to 1.9%. The national mortality rate is 3.3%, which the Union Health Minister Harsh Vardhan said was the lowest in the world.

Maharashtra with 651 deaths has the highest number of deaths in the country, followed by Gujarat with 396 deaths. Ranking third on the list is Madhya Pradesh (185), then West Bengal (144), Rajasthan (92) and then Delhi (65). As we have seen, Delhi has under-reported the number of deaths in the state.

Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on May 2 had said that the state was ready to lift the lockdown. “The time has come to re-open Delhi. We will have to be ready to live with coronavirus,” declared the Chief Minister. Instead of ramping up the health system, Kejriwal urged the citizens of the national capital to wear masks, practice social distancing and wash hands frequently to avoid COVID-19 infection.

These general rules advocated by all health organisations come from the Chief Minister even as Delhi has reached the community spread stage. It has been more than 60 days since the COVID-19 pandemic was taken seriously in the country and Delhi is struggling to contain the growing number of cases.

The Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, on May 6, said that 52,952 persons tested positive in India and the death toll due to COVID-19 rose to 1,783. The number of active cases stood at 35,902 while 15,266 people were cured and discharged. India also reported the highest spike in COVID-19 cases on May 5.

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Published: 7 May 2020, 8:41 PM