Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta said the discrepancies in the numbers will be investigated.
As many as 451 deaths of patients of the coronavirus in Mumbai have not been reported by the city’s Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation, a data reconciliation exercise by the Maharashtra government has shown, The Indian Express reported on Tuesday.
This happened after the city’s civic body reportedly told the state government that three of the 451 unrecorded deaths occurred due to unnatural causes, while 20 other names were a duplication error, unidentified officials told the newspaper. According to the guidelines of the Indian Council of Medical Research, the death of every coronavirus patient has to be notified as a Covid-19-related death unless the patient had a terminal illness, or had died because of poisoning, accident or suicide.
The BMC said that over the last week, it had reported another 57 of the 451 deaths in a “staggered manner”. This meant that the reporting of only 371 deaths, and not 451, is pending now, it claimed.
The city has 59,293 cases of the coronavirus while the toll was 2,250 as of Monday.
Unidentified health officials told the newspaper that the discrepancies in numbers came up during an exercise to match Covid-19 figures released by the Indian Council of Medical Research with that of the Maharashtra government’s. The exercise spanned several days and ended on June 6. Each case was analysed and all duplication errors were removed. The authorities also updated patient details for those recovered, those who are still infected, and the ones who died of the disease.
On June 11, Health Secretary Dr Pradeep Vyas wrote to the civic body informing that all municipal corporations and districts had undertaken a data reconciliation exercise. Vyas further directed the body to remove the errors in Covid-19 figures and submit the updated data by June 15. “Any data mismatch brought to notice subsequently would be viewed very seriously,” the notification stated.
“We found that 451 patients in Mumbai had no update,” an unidentified state health official told the newspaper. “Further inquiry found these patients had died but were not included in the official Covid count.”
Maharashtra Chief Secretary Ajoy Mehta said the tally of official Covid-19 cases and related deaths will be updated after the reconciliation exercise is over, adding that the government will investigate the discrepancies in the figures. “We intend to remain transparent on the cases and death numbers,” he said. “If it is human error, it is alright, but if there was mala fide intention, we will take action accordingly.”
Mehta added that the data cleaning exercise will be completed in the next two to three days and will be made public, The Times of India reported.
However, an identified civic official told The Indian Express that “reporting all deaths at once may trigger panic” and hence, a decision was taken to include a few of the unaccounted numbers every day.
On Monday, Leader of the Opposition Devendra Fadnavis wrote to Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray raising concern over the “unreported deaths” in Mumbai. He claimed around 500 Covid-19 deaths across hospitals in Mumbai were yet to be referred to the death audit committee.