CUTTACK: The Orissa High Court on Tuesday directed Additional Chief Secretary Health and Family Welfare department Pradipta Kumar Mohapatra to file a detailed supplementary affidavit on the issue of discrepancies in the audited Covid-19 deaths in the second wave.
The division bench of Chief Justice S Muralidhar and Justice BP Routray directed Mohapatra to set out in the affidavit how the State government proposes to gather accurate health data or the methodology specific to Covid-19 deaths. The bench issued the direction observing that the manner in which the death statistics was arrived at and the period covered is not clear.
The bench also directed Mohapatra to clarify whether the death position submitted relates to the entire period of the pandemic. The affidavit indicated that the number of Covid-19 deaths in the State was 4,925 by July 15 which rose to 8,022 by August 31. The Court was hearing a PIL filed by advocate Sohan Mishra. The bench posted the matter to October 7 for the next hearing.
The affidavit had stated that during the months of May, June and July when the cases were soaring and doctors in the hospitals were busy saving lives of patients, scrutiny of the primary cause of death and final reporting of Covid deaths slowed down. The reporting of 4,925 deaths as of July 15, 2021, is the number of updated scrutinised data pending the final decision on the true total number of deaths as some deaths were pending scrutinisation and reporting, the affidavit said.
After the severity of the pandemic declined significantly during the second half of July and August, the scrutiny of all the backlog records of the patients who died was expedited to find the primary cause of death. The Covid-19 deaths were ascertained to be 8,022 in the State till August 30, the affidavit added.
However, the bench expressed dissatisfaction over the affidavit and observed that the reports on the Covid-19 deaths were “inadequate” and directed for a detailed affidavit by October 4.