Chhattisgarh has recorded 43,062 more deaths between April and May during the second wave of the coronavirus pandemic, The Hindu reported on Thursday. This was 4.85 times the official reported toll in the same period.
The excess deaths were calculated by using the data obtained from the state’s Civil Registration System. It was the difference between 71,142 deaths recorded between April and May this year and 28,080 average number of deaths in the same period between 2015 and 2019, prior to the coronavirus pandemic.
Although not all of the excess deaths would be from Covid-19, the diversion of healthcare resources for people with the coronavirus disease meant many patients with other ailments may have failed to access treatment.
If the first three months of this year are taken into account, the undercount factor in Chhattisgarh drops to 3.6 times with 34,897 more deaths and 9,677 official toll.
Chhattisgarh Health Minister TS Singh Deo told The Hindu that authorities were not suppressing data. “We are absolutely open to add anyone who died due to corona but are not in the list,” he added. “Even if the data says that it is [actual deaths] 4 times more than the reported deaths. Even if it is 10 times more, we are open to that.”
Deo said the state was constantly updating numbers when irregularities were flagged. He dismissed a suggestion of door-to-door survey to confirm exact fatalities due to the infection.
He was also asked about the state’s low levels of death registration, which is only 76.4% in comparison to Punjab (98.9%), Himachal Pradesh (92.1%), West Bengal (91.7%), Andhra Pradesh (91.4%) and Tamil Nadu (90.9%). “In today’s times I don’t see the possibility of anyone not registering their deaths,” Deo said, adding that there was even lot of awareness in villages.
Minister of Planning, Economics and Statistics Amarjeet Bhagat told the newspaper that the deaths could be high because of the second wave of the pandemic. However, he did not elaborate further.
Civil Registration System data for Madhya Pradesh accessed by Scroll.in showed that the state recorded over 1,60,000 deaths in May 2021, or nearly five times the number of reported deaths in the same month in 2018 and 2019. In all, Madhya Pradesh saw more than twice as many deaths between January 1 and May 31 this year compared to the 2018-’19 figure.
There were over 1,80,000 deaths in 2021 over the average of number of deaths in 2018 and 2019, and over 42 times the reported Covid death toll for the same period.
Twenty-four districts in Uttar Pradesh recorded 1,97,000 more deaths between July 2020 and March 2021 than in the corresponding period the previous year. The mortality rate was 110% higher than the same period the previous year. The number of deaths was 43 times higher than the official Covid-19 toll in these nine months.
In Andhra Pradesh, excess deaths were 34 times the official Covid death toll in 2021. All cause deaths were nearly five times more than normal in May, coinciding with the second wave.
Limited data available for Tamil Nadu showed a more modest increase in mortality: between January 1 and June 13, Tamil Nadu registered 1,29,000 excess deaths over the average, roughly 7.5 times the official reported Covid-19 toll for the same time.
In Assam, excess deaths were 30 times the official Covid death toll in August to November 2020, coinciding with the first wave.
About 82,500 excess deaths occurred in Bihar between January and May at a time when the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic caused a surge in infections and deaths in India, according to data from the state’s Civil Registration System. This has cast doubts on the state’s official data on Covid-19 deaths.
In Kerala, about 14,372 excess deaths occurred between January 1 and May 31 when compared to the same period between 2015 and 2019.