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Delhi Govt Clarifies On 'under-reporting' Of COVID Deaths As BJP & Congress Echo Questions

With the Delhi govt coming under attack over under-reporting of Covid deaths, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said not a single case will go unaccounted for

Delhi health minister

With the Delhi government coming under attack over "under-reporting" of coronavirus deaths on Saturday, Health Minister Satyendar Jain said not a single case will go unaccounted for, as the total tally of cases in the national capital climbed to 6,542. Confusion prevailed over the number of COVID-19 deaths in Delhi, with data from four hospitals showing that 92 people succumbed to the infection as against 68 reported by the government.

Jain said the hospitals have not sent detailed death reports of patients which have information such reason of fatality, name, age and other things, on the basis of which COVID-19 health bulletin is updated. He said the health department has asked the hospitals to send death reports and summaries at the earliest, so that the data can be promptly added to the bulletin.

According to its latest bulletin, no fresh death was reported due to the virus. Of the total cases in the city, 4,454 are active while 2,020 patients have recovered, it stated. South Delhi's three areas -- Chirag Delhi, Khidki Extension and Deoli -- were de-contained on Saturday, bringing the total number of containment zones in the city to around 80.

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Opposition attacks Kejriwal govt

Opposition political parties trained their guns at the AAP government over the exact figure of coronavirus deaths. Congress leader Ajay Maken asked the Arvind Kejriwal-led dispensation it "to be more transparent" in reporting cases of the disease. It was a "matter of shame" that Delhi was witnessing "a sorry state of affairs" in the fight against the pandemic, he said.

Delhi BJP president Manoj Tiwari said the chief minister should clear the air about the situation. "Reports of under-reporting of coronavirus deaths are a matter of concern. It is extremely shameful that to hide its failures, the Delhi government is reportedly concealing COVID-19 death figures. "This is not the time to for politics. People have the right to know about the severity of the epidemic and the Kejriwal government should tell them the truth," he said.

Seeking to clarify the matter, Jain said, "There is no reason to hide anything. We have asked hospitals to send the death reports or summaries at the earliest. I give you guarantee that no case will go unaccounted for."

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Delhi govt data vs Hospital data

The toll of 68 shared by the government in its health bulletin on Friday is based on data collected from 10 hospitals, including AIIMS, Safdarjung Hospital, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital and Lady Hardinge Medical College. According to it, AIIMS (Delhi and Jhajjar) reported two deaths, Safdarjung Hospital reported four, Ram Manohar Lohia Hospital 26 and Lady Hardinge Medical College had no fatalities till Friday.

However, officials from these hospitals said the number of people who died due to coronavirus till Friday is higher than what is reflected in the Delhi government's bulletin.

AIIMS (Delhi Trauma Centre and Jhajjar) has recorded 14 deaths, an official said. According to AIIMS Medical Superintendent Dr D K Sharma, the discrepancy could have risen because the government is only counting the fatalities from the Trauma Centre, which has been converted into a dedicated COVID-19 hospital, and has not taken into account data from the Jhajjar facility. "They are calling us for the data. We told them we are regularly sending the correct, updated figures. We don't see any reason why wrong figures are being reflected," said a senior doctor at Safdarjung Hospital, which has reported 23 COVID-19 deaths.

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Minakshi Bhardwaj, the medical superintendent of RML Hospital, which has reported 52 deaths, said, "We are providing them data regularly and correctly. It is up to them to incorporate it in their bulletin."

Lady Hardinge Medical College Director Dr N N Mathur said the hospital has reported three deaths to the government. After the discrepancy in death toll came to light, Jain said, "If we had to hide data, we wouldn't have released Thursday's fresh COVID-19 cases which saw the highest single-day spike of 448 cases." The health department has roped in three more private hospitals -- Fortis in Shalimar Bagh, Saroj Medical Institute in Sector 19, Rohini and Khushi Hospital in Dwarka -- with a total of 150 beds to treat COVID-19 patients. 

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