All COVID-19 Deaths to Be Certified, Or Face Action: Centre
So far, only patients who succumbed to the virus in hospitals were certified as COVID deaths.
Amid media reports of massive discrepancy in COVID-19 deaths, the Centre in an affidavit in the Supreme Court on Sunday, 20 June, has stated that all coronavirus fatalities, regardless of where they take place, should be certified as COVID deaths.
So far, only patients who succumbed to the virus in hospitals were certified as COVID deaths and not the ones which took place at homes or while waiting for medical treatment outside hospitals.
In a 183-page affidavit filed on late Saturday night, the Centre also promised action against doctors who fail to comply with this rule. In the affidavit, the central government also contested that states cannot afford to compensate families with Rs 4 lakh each after the top court asked it to inform about its policy on COVID compensation.
The government's decision came after a plea that said families who lost their loved ones to COVID were missing out on Rs 4 lakh compensation already paid by some states since death certificates do not mention COVID-19 as the cause of death.
Media Reports Refute Official COVID Death Toll
India has reported over 3.85 lakh COVID deaths so far. However, several media reports counter the claim given the images of overcrowding crematoriums and thousands of bodies buried in shallow graves along the sandbanks of Ganga.
According to an NDTV investigation, there are 4.8 lakh unexplained excess deaths in the states of Madhya Pradesh, Andhra Pradesh, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, and Delhi.
A New York Times report dated 25 May also deduced the true scale of the pandemic in India in three scenarios – conservative, most likely, and worse case. In the most likely scenario, the death toll is 1.6 million deaths and in the worst-case scenario, the toll rises to a jaw-dropping 4.2 million, almost 13 times to the current death toll of 3.18 lakh.
The state health department of Bihar on 10 June revised its COVID death toll, placing the total deaths at 9,429 – up from under 5,000 deaths it was earlier.
Maharashtra also revised its COVID death toll. From 11-16 June, the state reported 11,052 COVID deaths. However, nearly 9,000 deaths were added to the toll as “old deaths”. These are deaths which happened earlier but were not included in the state’s official death count.
Experts at IHME in Seattle, Washington, in April 2021, projected that estimated deaths in India due to the virus by 1 August will be 9,59,561. However, this number was based on official figures, trends, and if the vaccine distribution is scaled up over the coming 90 days.
While estimates may vary by statistical models, one thing that can be said is that the pandemic is much larger than the official figures portray.
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