A report, published in the UK-based newspaper the Telegraph, has claimed that India and Pakistan are under-reporting the number of deaths from the new coronavirus.
The report claims that doctors in West Bengal and other parts of India have been instructed to “not mention Covid-19 in death certificates of people dying of the infection”.
“Similar subterfuge is alleged to be underway in other parts of India, as states lie about their death tolls so ruling parties can point-score against political rivals over their containment of the virus,” the Telegraph report said.
The medical staff in West Bengal, the report alleged, has been asked to “not test” Covid patients to reduce the number of cases. Only a secretive committee made up of government-appointed doctors is authorised to decide if a patient has died of the disease.
In West Bengal’s Barrakpore, the report claimed, bodies are being cremated in the dead of the night to cover up Covid deaths.
Crematorium in Kolkata also reported a surge in the number of people dying daily.
“We used to cremate 15 to 20 bodies usually in a week, before the arrival of Covid. But now we receive that number of dead bodies in a single day,” a worker in a Kolkata crematorium was quoted as saying by the news report.
A similar case came to light in the national capital Delhi. While the municipal corporations reported 426 corona positive cremations or burial, the state govt put the death toll to 194.
The Covid-19 mortality rate in South Asia has been sort of a puzzle for experts. While countries across the world were seen reeling from the deadly coronavirus infection, both India and Pakistan reported abysmally low mortality despite a substantial rise in the number of cases.
Across the border, a similar exercise is underway but for different reasons. People in Pakistan are afraid of reporting the Covid deaths because of the stigma attached to it.
People fear that if they die of Covid-19, the mourners at their funeral will be strictly limited. As a result, people in Pakistan are “choosing to die at home, unrecorded”, the report added.
There have been instances of people trying to bribe the medical staff to get the bodies of Covid victims.
“As far I know, 50 per cent of Covid-19 victims are dying in their homes and the trend is rising,” a doctor from Pakistan said.
“But the people don’t want an unceremonial burial. They want big and well-attended funerals,” he added.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author’s own.