As India grapples with one of the world’s deadliest outbreaks of COVID-19 this week, Indian Health Minister Harsh Vardhan confirmed that death rates from the disease remain. “The lowest in the world”
It is a confusing remark to the images and atrocities that have poured out of India over the past two weeks.Hospitals and burial chambers full of capacity people have died on the sidewalks due to shortages. Oxygen and, apparently, the crematorium and the cemetery overflowing with corpses.
India’s official death toll continues to rise. Saturday marked another record-breaking day with 401,993 new cases and 3,523 deaths.Health experts widely believe the official daily figure is not close to the actual number of deaths.
Because Covid-19 patients are unable to enter the hospital, many have died at home, often without examination. At the same time, state governments and local authorities have been accused of rampant misconduct, concealing and confusing the true number of deaths in their states. In the past month in Bangalore, Karnataka, the country with the fastest increase in deaths in the country, the number of COVID-related deaths registered in the crematorium. Twice as many as the official deaths
Allegations of concealment are particularly prevalent in Uttar Pradesh, where the state government is controlled by the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Yogi Adityanath, chief minister of rigidity, insists the state is not lacking in oxygen. And threatened to prosecute those who “spread panic.” The authorities denied any concealment.
In the city of Muzaffarnagar In Uttar Pradesh, information collected by Observer It showed a huge difference between the official deaths recorded by the local authorities and the accounts given by those who performed the cremation and cemeteries.
According to official statistics Muzaffarnagar Only 10 people died from COVID over four days in late April, however, Ajay Kumar Agarwal, the city’s crematorium president, said. Muzaffarnagar Said this was not even close to the size of the corpses he managed.
“At normal times we cremated three bodies a day, but over the past 10 days it has increased,” he said. “One day it was 18, another day it was 20, then 22 and one on the 25th. Over the last 10 days. Come on, we have at least 12 corpses per day, of which 90% of them die from corona. “
Agarwal said there were only seven pyres in the city’s crematorium. Muzaffarnagar He said they were overwhelmed to cremate the bodies in open ground and deliver parts to another crematorium 20 miles away. “The situation here is pitiful,” he said.
Agarwal was accused of publishing “inaccurate” numbers and dismissing suggestions that the city experienced every day this week with no COVID-related deaths or just two deaths. The correct death numbers were not disclosed publicly, ”he said.“ I don’t understand why they hid it. Maybe they don’t want people to panic. “
Sanjay Mittal at the crematorium’s only Muzaffarnagar New Mandi recounts a similar scene. He said he “had never seen a situation like this in my life – we were burning from morning to night.”
According to Mittal, prior to the outbreak, the new crematoriums were often seen to arrive in one day, but on April 27, they received 21 on April 28 to the 15th and on the date. April 29 to 18, he couldn’t confirm how many positive COVID-19 were.
“It was noon and we have 12 corpses, who knows how many by the end of the day,” he said on Friday.
A similar body increase has also been reported recently by Abdul Quadir, a curator of Muslim cemeteries in Muzaffarnagar “Before the corona, we buried a few bodies a week, but now six to seven have arrived every day,” he said. “So far, only three have come from the hospital, the rest have died at home and yet. Not been examined “
Official government data confirms that the Covid-19 test rate in Muzaffarnagar is very low.On Tuesday, April 27, there were no local tests, while on April 29 there were only 561 tests, all of which turned positive.
Doctors at the Indian Medical Association in Uttar Pradesh, who asked to remain anonymous, said many people died from diseases such as pneumonia and pulmonary fibrosis, which they contracted as a result of COVID-19 complications, he said. The saying: “The number of these deaths is very high. But not counting deaths from the coronavirus. ”
He added, “We agree that the death toll from the coronavirus is much higher than the district administration’s public data. Most of the corpses we saw at the crematorium were those who were treated at home and then died there. The number of such deaths is also high. But most of them are not recorded in official data. The test rates here are very low compared to demand. ”
Chief Medical Officer Muzaffarnagar Did not respond to requests for comment.
Murad Banaji, mathematician simulating India’s COVID-19 outbreak, said: “A lot of evidence shows that COVID-19 mortality is a huge problem in India,” he added: “Before we start to congratulate ourselves on India’s low mortality rate. The first thing to make it clear is that we do not have a very good idea of how many people have died of COVID in the country. ”
According to Banaji, India’s death toll is at least three times higher than the official figure. This comes from calculations from cities such as Mumbai, where he examined the “excess fatalities” recorded in the city during 2020 when the outbreak occurred. (Excess death is defined as the number of deaths in excess of the average number of deaths. This is usually recorded in place every year)
Banaji has discovered an unprecedented increase in the deaths of Mumbai, and for all recorded COVID-19 deaths, more than one death was not identified. Caused by COVID
“All of the excess fatalities may not be from COVID-19,” Banaji explains, “but based on what we have gathered from most international data and studies, it is likely, and in the case of Mumbai, forecasts. Mine is at least 60% to 70% of these additional deaths coming from COVID.
The calculations would push Mumbai’s actual death toll from 13,000 to 21,000, however, Banaji stressed that for the rural and poor areas of India in states such as Bihar and Uttar Pradesh, which have infrastructure. In terms of health limitations, death records and COVID testing, the number of unreported COVID deaths “is likely to be larger and greater in the case of COVID-related deaths. A city like Mumbai ”.
The impact of India’s inability to accurately report the true death toll of the outbreak is extensive. If many believe that inadequate counts occur in most marginalized communities, the true amount of these outbreaks of these groups is unlikely to be accepted and this will have a negative impact. It also provides post-epidemic resources and responsibilities to local authorities or governments. Likewise, experts fear that it could hinder the state’s ability to create effective vaccination strategies to combat future currents.
“If we don’t have the information to fully understand what is going on with this outbreak,” Banaji said, “how will India prepare for the future?”