200 Chennai deaths ‘missing’ from state toll; TN govt probes

  • | Thursday | 11th June, 2020

The Tamil Nadu government has ordered a Covid death audit in Chennai after it came to light that “not less than” 200 fatalities suspected to be linked to the infection did not make it to the state’s official toll, a senior health official told The Indian Express. The estimate is based on a “preliminary assessment” of the city corporation’s records, the official said. Tamil Nadu had reported 326 Covid deaths till Wednesday evening, including 260 within Chennai city limits alone.

Chennai: The Tamil Nadu government has ordered a Covid death audit in Chennai after it came to light that “not less than” 200 fatalities suspected to be linked to the infection did not make it to the state’s official toll, a senior health official told The Indian Express. The estimate is based on a “preliminary assessment” of the city corporation’s records, the official said. Tamil Nadu had reported 326 Covid deaths till Wednesday evening, including 260 within Chennai city limits alone.

Officials blamed the “mismatch” on a “procedural lapse” since there was no system of reporting deaths recorded in the Chennai corporation’s registry to the government on a daily basis. Denying allegations that the government had “fudged” the numbers to show a lesser toll, the state’s Health Secretary Beela Rajesh said that a “nine-member reconciliation committee to streamline Covid-19 deaths data will look into all such cases”.

“We don’t have to hide the death data, we cannot do that. We have been accurately reporting all Covid-19 deaths as reported from hospitals in the public and private sector. Following latest reports that there were several deaths that were not reported, we have formed this committee to assess all these alleged Covid-19 deaths in city limits,” she said. Rajesh said that the government is yet to ascertain the number of deaths that did not make it to the official toll as the committee was “still collecting data”. “Even if we have an efficient system to collect data from all hospitals including medical colleges and private hospitals about Covid-19 deaths, the system on the ground has had no practice of reporting deaths on a daily basis before the Covid outbreak. We suspect that these alleged deaths were cases such as home deaths or those that happened at private clinics, etc.,” she said.

A corporation official told The Indian Express that “there were lapses” in updating the city’s death and birth registry regularly due to a staff crunch, and the additional workload of managing the lockdown and over 1,000 containment zones.



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