At least 290 deaths in Chennai due to COVID-19 between June 11 and July 5 still remain unaccounted for, a report in the Times of India has revealed. The report states that these numbers are over and above the 256 deaths that were reported to be unaccounted from March to June 10. The report adds that if these deaths are added, the fatality rate in Chennai will rise to 2.3% from the current 1.6%. The death toll in Chennai currently stands at 1,295.
The missing data was discovered by officials of the Greater Chennai Corporation while they were reconciling data from Chennaiâ€™s cremation and burial grounds. The TOI report states that city health officer Dr M Jagadeesan informed the director of public health Dr TS Selva Vinayagam of the 290 deaths that had taken place between June 11 and July 5.
The health department found that while 188 of the 290 had tested positive, the results of the remaining 102 have either not been located yet or they have not been tested for COVID-19. Most of the deceased were those who were either brought dead to the hospitals or died shortly after they had been admitted. Officials told TOI that while hospitals handed over some of the bodies to the families for cremation or burial as per COVID-19 protocol, the hospital did not inform the civic body or the health department when the tests of these people returned positive. Some of the deaths had also taken place at home, officials told the newspaper.
A team has been set up to review and reconcile such numbers to the stateâ€™s death toll. This team meets every week and Health Secretary J Radhakrishnan told TOI that these new deaths will also be added to state data.
Earlier, on June 10, Pushpa Narayan of the TOI had reported how the Chennai Corporation had recorded at least 236 more COVID-19 related deaths when compared to the Tamil Nadu register.
Later, the Health Department had issued notices to hospitals and the Corporation asking them to ensure COVID-19 related deaths are reported to the Directorate of Public Health.
The letter states, "All COVID-19 deaths since March 2020 to till date to be shared. From now on all the COVID-19 deaths of Chennai Corporation have to be notified on a daily basis to his office by the identified officials (eg) city health officer/Health officer (VS)."
Following this, the nine-member committee had been formed to reconcile the actual number of COVID-19 deaths in the state. This committee had stated that 256 deaths between March and June 10 needed to be added to Tamil Naduâ€™s COVID-19 tally.
Tamil Nadu reported 4,526 new COVID-19 cases on July 14. The state presently has 47,912 active COVID-19 cases and 15,814 of the active cases are from Chennai. The death toll in the state currently stands at 2,099.
Also read: Underreporting of COVID-19 deaths in Tamil Nadu: What went wrong