Days after elected representatives of both the Congress and BJP alleged manipulation of data on Covid-19 deaths in Vadodara by the authorities, Officer on Special Duty Vinod Rao on Sunday released a list of the number of patients from outside the district who were “cremated or buried” in Vadodara following the Covid-19 protocol since September 1.
The elected representatives had alleged that the increasing number of cremations and burials across the city are an indicator of the “concealed” figures of deaths due to Covid in Vadodara.
According to Rao’s list, 160 patients from outside Vadodara district died during Covid-19 treatment or as suspected or recovered cases in various hospitals in the city from September 1 to 19. The list indicates that the highest number of patients —13 from outside Vadodara died on September 7 while 11 each died on September 8 and 9. Ten patients each from outside Vadodara died in the district on September 1 and 11.
The VMC, however, has not released its own corresponding data related to the numbers of deaths of those patients with comorbid conditions who tested positive for Covid-19 but were not counted as covid-19 deaths by the audit committee or those who were suspected Covid-19 cases at death or deaths after Covid19 recovery.
The official medical bulletin of the Vadodara health department, issued by the VMC, which includes the figures of positive cases, recovered patients and deaths from the entire jurisdiction of Vadodara distrtict, however, has reported single digit deaths on all days since July 2, not exceeding three deaths in one day.
On September 7, the VMC reported one Covid-19 death, two on September 8 and one on September 9. On July 2, the VMC announced that the daily medical bulletin will only report those deaths that are certified as “deaths due to Covid-19” by the death audit committee.
The VMC had said, “According to ICMR guidelines, deaths that occur due to existing co-morbid conditions will not be counted as Covid-19 deaths. Hereon, only those deaths where the cause has been Covid-19 will be declared.”
Vadodara’s death toll on Sunday stood at 176, of which 54 deaths are reported from the age group of 61 to 70 years and 50 from 51 to 60 years.
Rao, who visited all four Covid-19 designated cremation and burial grounds in the city — Khaswadi, Gorwa, Akota and Vasna —to take stock of he situation and assess complaints of queues for creamations, said, “In the first 19 days of September, 160 persons from outside Vadodara district who passed away in hospitals of Vadodara were cremated or buried in Vadodara following Covid protocol. These include positive cases, suspected cases and patients who recovered from Covid, mainly from Bharuch, Anand, Kheda, Panchmahals, Dahod, Narmada and Mahisagar. A few patients were also from Madhya Pradesh.”
On Friday, Congress corporator Chirag Zaveri and BJP MLA from Sayajigunj Jitendra Sukhadia aired their concern, seeking immediate correction in the figures related to the pandemic in Vadodara, even as Mayor Dr Jigeesha Seth told local reporters that the numbers of reported cases could be “restricted” to avoid “spread of panic” among people.
While Zaveri had contended that as a corporator he was in the know of close to 120 cases being reported daily from each of the two Urban Primary Health Centres (UPHCs) in his ward alone, contrary to VMC’s statistics of an average of 125 daily cases from across the city and district.
Zaveri had also raised suspicion over the reported death toll in Vadodara and was backed by Sukhadia, who said, “It is clear that there is gross mismanagement of reported numbers. They are showing one or two deaths everyday… then why are the crematoriums witnessing heavy queues?”
Rao told this newspaper that all data being reported was “according to the protocols of the Indian Council for Medical Research (ICMR)”.
A top official of the health department said, “The figures of the deaths are only those who died during active admission and were considered as Covid-19 deaths by the committee. There have been deaths among recovered patients and suspected Covid-19 cases, which are not counted even as part of the audit.”
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