DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand has reported 42 per cent Covid deaths that were 'missed' earlier, giving rise to suspicions of underreporting of coronavirus fatalities in the state.
These are now being reported as 'backlog deaths' for the last six days in the family health bulletin of the state government.
Of the total 923 deaths reported last week in the daily Covid bulletin, 384 of them are 'backlog deaths', accounting for 42 per cent deaths due to the virus.
A doctor from the state health department on the condition of anonymity said, "After 65 deaths were discovered unreported in Haridwar by a private hospital, notices were served. Following this, everyone is on alert now. No such thing happened in the first wave."
Interestingly, the hospitals that failed to report these deaths include the All India Institute of Medical Sciences, (Rishikesh) other government hospitals, and many private hospitals from Haridwar, Pithoragarh, Dehradun, and other districts.
Meanwhile, the daily bulletin clarified these 'backlog deaths' were reported from previous dates and added to the cumulative tally.
In some cases, these deaths reflected in district reports/daily bulletin, but were not submitted on time to state COVID-19 Control Room, the health department stated.
The lacuna has led to the belief that fatality figures in Uttarakhand carry serious discrepancies.
Anoop Nautiyal, from Social Development for Communities Foundation which has been collating and analysing data since March 15, 2020, when the first case of Covid 19 surfaced in the state said: "The fact that many government hospitals are unable to report deaths on time in Uttarakhand is a classic example of administrative collapse. We will never know all the reasons but this is indicative of a systemic rot. If we seek improvements, we need to make serious and sustained efforts."
Officials from the state health department told The New Indian Express that this is not an attempt to hide the causalities or cover up the number of deaths.
Dr Abhishek Tripathi, in charge of Central Covid Control Room of the state in Dehradun, said, "The hospitals, both government and private, were overloaded with cases. Those who worked in the hospital were also infected. There could be innumerable reasons why this was not reported to the central control room. Now that they are providing us data we are uploading/upgrading in transparent fashion on daily basis."
Last week, after 65 deaths from April 25 to May 12 went unreported in Baba Barfani Hospital of Haridwar, the state government swung in action and issued orders stating that those failing to report coronavirus deaths will be penalised.
Anshul Singh from the Baba Barfani Hospital, Haridwar said: "Data was diligently collated and death certificate were issued regularly. There was some miscommunication due to overload of Covid cases."
Uttarakhand has recorded total 5734 deaths due to Covid 19 since the pandemic struck in 2020, of which 3045 deaths were reported in May 2021.
From May 1 to 22, the daily death count on 19 days remained above 100.
Interestingly, Uttarakhand's death rate is 65% more than national one. The state's death rate is 1.85% while national death rate stands at 1.12%.