All coronavirus deaths regardless of where it takes place, should be recorded as Covid deaths, the Centre has said in an affidavit in the Supreme Court after media reports pointed out huge discrepancy in death figures in more than six states. In an affidavit to the Supreme Court filed late last night, the Centre also promised action against doctors who fail to comply with this rule.
So far, only deaths of Covid patients that took place in hospitals were certified as Covid, not the ones that happened at home or even at hospital parking lots, leading to a discrepancy in fatality figures that ran into lakhs.
The Centre fixed the oversight in an affidavit that also contended that Rs 4 lakh compensation cannot be given for Covid deaths as it would place an unbearable financial burden on states that are already cash strapped due to lean tax collections in the wake of the lockdown and the tailspin in economy.
The government was responding to the court’s notice after a plea asked for compensation and certification of Covid deaths.
The plea said that death certificates of victims do not mention Covid as cause of death, making it difficult for families to get compensation.
“Death certificates say death due to lung problem and heart issues. Families of victims have to rush from pillar to post. Is there any uniform policy on issuing death certificates to Corona victims? Or are there any guidelines?” the top court had asked the Centre in a notice.
The Centre’s decision to certify all Covid deaths comes at a time when many states have seen massive unaccounted death figures, raising questions on whether states were undercounting their Covid victims.
Just yesterday, data from Bihar showed close to 75,000 people died in the state of unexplained causes in the first five months of this year. This is almost 10 times the state’s official pandemic death figure.
The Patna High Court then pulled up the Nitish Kumar government and categorically stated that, for whatever reasons, the state’s reluctance to publish the number of fatalities during the Covid pandemic period was uncalled for and not protected by law.
Maharashtra too has been revising its Covid death numbers to reflect data that came in with some lapse of time. Data from just 12 days resulted in the state’s overall Covid-related deaths zooming by over 8,800. The state has the highest deaths in the country with over 1.17 lakh victims.
India has reported over 3.85 lakh Covid deaths so far – a number seen to increase further as states prep for a third wave of Covid.