Probe Reveals TN Govt Misreporting COVID-19 Deaths in Chennai

A Chennai based NGO has also alleged that the number of COVID-19 deaths are being under-reported.

Published10 Jun 2020, 01:15 PM IST
Coronavirus
2 min read

The number of COVID-19 deaths has been misreported in Chennai, revealed an inspection by Tamil Nadu’s Department of Public Health (DPH) over death records maintained by the Greater Chennai Corporation’s (GCC) health department.

A report by journalist Pushpa Narayan in The Times of India stated that 460 people have died of COVID-19 in Chennai till 8 June, which is more than double the number, 224 deaths, as announced.

The team found that the Greater Chennai Corporation had recorded more deaths than the state registry, which changes the mortality rate due to coronavirus to 1.5% and not 0.7%, as reported by the state, said the report.

Tamil Nadu is the second most-affected state in the country after Maharashtra with 34,914 COVID-19 cases reported till Tuesday. These include 16,282 active cases and 307 deaths.

Chennai NGO Alleges Under-Reporting

Meanwhile, Arappor Iyakkam, an NGO based in Chennai, revealed that they had adequate evidence to prove that the number of COVID-19 deaths are being under-reported.

The anti-corruption organisation has accessed the mortuary cards of patients in a few hospitals in the city and alleged their deaths were not included in the state tally.

A 50-year-old man from a neighbouring district was admitted to Government Stanley Medical College and Hospital in Chennai on 26 May and passed away on 28 May. Jayaraman, convener of the NGO said that the ‘causes of death’ does specify that the patient was COVID-19 positive. The mortuary card of a 69-year-old male, who was admitted to the hospital on 26 May and died on 31 May, stated that he was COVID-19 positive. Both these deaths have not been counted in the state tally, he alleged.

Another case is of an 87-year-old patient who was admitted to the Raja Muthiah Medical College Hospital in Cuddalore. He was admitted on 29 May and he died on 4 June.

“Why has the state not counted this in the state tally? This seems like just a sample and indicates there are many more cases like this. Is the state deliberately under-reporting?”
Jayaraman, Convener, Arappor Iyakkam NGO

The NGO has sent a complaint backed with evidence, to the health secretary to look into the matter at the earliest and ensure complete transparency in the process.

‘No Intention of Hiding:’ TN Health Minister

The report also stated that over 20 COVID-19 deaths as recorded by the railway hospital in Perambur were also not reported to the state nodal office.

Tamil Nadu Health Minister Vijayabhaskar, however, told the newspaper that the ministry has been transparent and they had no ‘intention of hiding’ anything. Health secretary Beela Rajesh assured that a committee will look into the matter.

Some officials even stated that they were short-staffed and hospitals were not adhering to the right format to notify the corporation of the deaths everyday.

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