DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand has recorded total 922 'Backlog Deaths' till June 11 raising questions on COVID mortality data. Interestingly, 89 backlog deaths were reported on October 17, 2020 followed by 29 on May 9 and 65 on May 14, 2021. Since May 17, 2021 it has been a regular feature in daily COVID-19 bulletin of the state.
Anoop Nautiyal, from Social Development for Communities Foundation which has been collating and analysing data since March 15, 2020 when the first case of COVID19 surfaced in the state said, "The number of deaths cannot be final and foolproof numbers as, for remote and hilly aras of Uttarakhand where almost everyone was in home isolation, figures must have been missed. Releasing COVID-19 mortality figures in form of backlog deaths confirms that number can be much more in first as well as second wave."
As per law, hospitals need to report deaths within 24 hours but with these deaths being reported by hospitals much later on daily basis cites that they missed those somehow.
The state health department started regularly updating daily bulletin with backlog deaths since May 17, 2021 stating, "Deaths reported from previous date are added in cumulative figure. These deaths were reflected in district reports/daily bulletin, but not submitted timely to State COVID-19 Control Room."
Commenting on the matter, Abhishek Tripathi, in-charge of state COVID-19 Control Room said, "The backlog deaths are still being released as an exercise of transparency. These figures were missed due to various reason including heavy load or the staff of the hospitals being affected badly by the second wave."
On May 17 total 87 backlog deaths were reported followed by 19 on May 18, 83 on May 19, 79 on May 20, 46 on May 21, 70 on May 22, 18 on May 23, 27 on May 24, 12 on May 25, 40 on May 26, 7 on May 27, 8 on May 28, 41 on May 29, 9 on May 30, 7 on May 31, 9 on June 1, 8 on June 2, 7 on June 3, 15 on June 4, 17 on June 5, 12 on June 6, 11 on June 7, 53 on June 8, 30 on June 9, 14 on June 10 and 10 on June 11, 2021.
Last month after incident of 65 deaths from April 25 to May 12 went unreported in Baba Barfani Hospital of Haridwar, the state government swung in action and issues orders that those failing to report COVID deaths will be penalized.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand High Court on June 9, 2021 directed the state health department officials "to file sufficient cogent and convincing evidence to establish that death audit is being carried out". The bench comprising Chief Justice RS Chauhan said in the order, "The said death audit report should also be accompanied with the corresponding death certificate of the patient."