On August 2, the Hindustan Times reported that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath had claimed that no Covid-19 deaths had been reported in the state during the last three days. News18 too published the same claim but did not attribute it to Adityanath.
“Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Monday said the Covid situation was in control in UP due to concerted efforts and it was extremely heartening that no one died of Covid infection in the last three days,” read the Hindustan Times report.
If the Hindustan Times report is to be believed, Adityanath’s claim is misleading. While data released by the state shows no deaths on July 31, August 1 and August 2, the numbers released by the Centre show seven deaths were reported during these days. Before talking numbers, there’s one technical difference regarding reporting of Covid-19 deaths by the Centre and the state: timing. While the state releases its daily bulletin every evening for the last 24 hours, the Centre releases it every morning.
So, according to data released by the Union Ministry of Information and Broadcasting on Twitter, cumulative Covid-19 deaths in UP till 8 am on July 31 were 22,756. This means that since the Centre released the reports on the morning of July 31, the deaths must have occurred the previous day – July 30.
On August 1, no deaths were reported till 8 am, meaning no deaths occurred on July 31. On August 2, data shows a total of 22,763 cumulative deaths till 8 am in UP. This means that seven deaths took place on August 1. On August 3, the numbers remained unchanged at 22,763 deaths that means no deaths took place on August 2.
In all, seven deaths were recorded by the Centre between July 31 and August 2.
Here is all this data, shared daily by the central government on #IndiaFightsCorona, MIB’s Twitter account for Covid-19 updates.
The Covid19India, which collates data from the Centre and state, also reports the same.
However, data provided by the UP government in the public domain is incomplete. While data is available for July 31, and August 2 on the official YouTube channel of the state government, data for August 1, which saw seven deaths as per Centre’s records, is unavailable.
In fact, the main Covid-19 portal for UP is inaccessible to the public. Similarly, National Health Mission’s website and official Twitter accounts do not provide Covid-19 data.
In the YouTube bulletins for July 31 and August 2, the state reported zero Covid-19 deaths. FactChecker got access to daily data shared by the UP government with local reporters through WhatsApp and that shows no deaths were reported on August 1 either.
It is intriguing as to why there exists such a big gap in data reported by the Centre and the state considering the Centre has, on many occasions, said health is a state subject and the Centre only collates data, does not collect it.
In a response given in the Rajya Sabha on July 20, where Minister of State for Health Dr Bharati Pawar had said no death was specifically reported by states and Union territories due to lack of oxygen, she had also taken the onus of reporting these deaths off the central government.
“Health is a state subject,” read the Rajya Sabha response. “Detailed guidelines for reporting of deaths have been issued by Union Health Ministry to all states/UTs. Accordingly, all states/UTs report cases and deaths to Union Health Ministry on a regular basis.”
Moreover, in response to the uproar, Bharatiya Janata Party national spokesperson Sambit Patra had also pointed out that the Centre only collects data from states.
And yet the data is not nearly the same. FactChecker tried contacting UP CM’s office and the Health Ministry’s office via email and calls for clarification but had not received a response from either by the time of publishing this article. We also called up UP’s Additional Chief Secretary Information Navneet Sehgal and left him a message. But we have not heard from him either.
This article first appeared on FactChecker.in, a publication of the data-driven and public-interest journalism non-profit IndiaSpend.