TIRUCHY: A possible case of under-reporting Covid-related deaths has surfaced in Tiruchy district, after a significant mismatch was found in the official death count reported by the government of Tamil Nadu and the number of cremations conducted as per Covid protocols at crematoriums in the city.
According to data available with The New Indian Express, between May 1 to May 15, the Oyyamari crematorium, the largest in the Tiruchy city, conducted a total of 198 Covid cremations. However, in the same period, the district overall only reported a total of 116 deaths, according to the government bulletin.
"In the last fortnight, we are witnessing a heavy number of requests for cremations in this facility. With two bio-gas cremation facilities here, we are cremating on an average 18-20 bodies every day. The bodies are cremated only after the hospital takes a booking and the patient provides necessary documents at the time of cremation," said, a worker at the Oyyamari crematorium.
According to officials, the Oyyamari crematorium receives bodies from over 10 hospitals located in the heart of Tiruchy city, including the MGMGH. They also added that the number of cremations done at Oyyamari in the last 15 days would also include a handful of cases from other districts, as are sent for cremation here due to the distance or their residence.
It is to be noted that apart from Oyyamari cremation facility, bodies of Covid-related deaths are also cremated in the facilities available at Konakarai, Karumandapam and Srirangam. However, the numbers are not as high as in Oyyamari.
"At Karumandapam, the cremations of Covid deaths are very less due to its location. But, in the facilities at Konakarai, which has one burner, we are cremating at least 10-12 bodies each day as per Covid protocol for the past two weeks. At Srirangam crematorium, which was opened on Friday, we have cremated around 10 bodies in the last two days. Overall, in the last 15 days, we are cremating 30-32 bodies each day as per Covid protocol in the city. However, the average number was less than 10 for a major part of the first wave of coronavirus and the time after that," said an official from the civic body.
When contacted, Collector S Divyadharshini denied this and said that a weekly audit is being conducted to make sure there is no mismatch in the data.
Speaking to The New Indian Express, she said, "The data mismatch could be due to delay in collecting the data from the private hospitals and recording them to the bullet-in and also due to cremating suspected cases under Covid protocols. Weekly audit under the Joint Director (Health) is being conducted and all the number differences will be altered in the upcoming days."